The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Death knell for panda raj
- Court bars entry in deity’s chamber, puts police on job

Devotees at Kalighat will no longer be at the mercy of pandas.

In an attempt to curb lawlessness at the Kali temple, Calcutta High Court on Friday delivered an “experimental” verdict, prohibiting entry of pandas into the garbhagriha.

“No one, except priests appointed by the temple committee, will be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum,” ruled the division bench of Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice Nadira Patherya, signalling the beginning of the end of panda raj.

The court directed police to ensure that no devotee is harassed by pandas or criminals at the temple. “Police will have to act according to the law whenever a pilgrim lodges a complaint,” the bench said.

Every night after the temple is closed, the sealed cash offering boxes will be opened in front of a temple committee representative, the sebayet in charge of the daily puja and a police officer. After paying the sebayet his dues, the committee must deposit the amount in the bank the morning after.

The court ruled that devotees will have to hand over other offerings and garlands to the priests, who will return them to the pilgrims after puja. “The Kalighat Temple Committee is being directed to place baskets... nobody will be allowed to throw flowers at the deity,” the order said.

The court wants beggars removed from the temple premises and approach roads. It has “no objection” to petitioner Prahlad Goenka’s plea for an order allowing installation of closed-circuit cameras on the temple premises for round-the-clock vigil, and asked him to “talk to police”.

The order also mentioned that the civic body, entrusted by the state to beautify the temple, has received Rs 1 crore from International Fund for Sustainable Development and will start work in two weeks.

“This is an experiment. We will review the situation,” the bench said, fixing the hearing two weeks after the court opens following Puja vacation.

Email This Page