Cuttack, Nov. 18: Orissa High Court has stayed the proposed sale of around 40 acres owned by the Jagannath temple in Puri and has admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue.
The collector of Khurda district had issued a public sale notice inviting tender for 39.99 acres owned by the Jagannath temple at Tapanga. The minimum value of land had been set at Rs 3 lakh per acre.
The PIL, while seeking the high court’s intervention, contended that there was no rationale for taking a decision to sell the land because it “was providing huge revenues to the temple administration”.
Samir Mohapatra and two others, all residents of Nijigada-Tapanga, filed the petition claiming themselves to be “devotees of Lord Jagannath”.
“The collector of Khurda, without looking into the interests of Lord Jagannath, is arbitrarily selling properties,” the PIL contends. The case came up for hearing on Thursday.
“After a preliminary hearing, the two-judge bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra, as an interim measure, stayed the tender call notice,” petitioners’ counsel Bibhu Prasad Tripathy told The Telegraph today.
The public sale notice issued on September 26, 2011, had scheduled an auction of the 39.99 acres at the conference hall of the Khurda collector in Tapang today.
“The court admitted the PIL and issued notices to the state law department, the Jagannath temple administration and the collector of Khurda,” Tripathy said.
The PIL alleged that the public sale notice is in contravention of Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954, as amended in 2004.
The Act specifies that no land from Lord Jagannath can be sold or otherwise alienated without previous sanction of the government. “The authorities have decided to put the property for sale without following the procedure and formalities as mandated under law,” the petitioners said.
The Act, in Section 16, (Alienation of Temple properties), said: “No movable property of non-perishable nature, of which the committee is in possession and the value of which is more than one thousand rupees and no jewelleries shall be sold, pledged or otherwise alienated without the previous approval of the state government.”
The Jagannath temple has land in 23 districts of the state and half of this is in Khurda alone, the petition said.