SC To Appoint New Amicus Curiae To Monitor Jagannath Temple Reforms; Here’s Why

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Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court is most likely to appoint new amicus curiae to monitor implementation of the proposed Jagannath Temple reforms as Gopal Subaramanium stepped down from the post on Friday.

Gopal Subramanium, amicus curiae to Puri Srimandir, in a letter to the Supreme Court Registry on November 25, had prayed to relieve him of the responsibility due to personal reasons.

The SC today accepted Subramanium’s withdrawal and deferred the Srimandir reforms hearing to the second week of January next year.

Notably, on June 6, the SC while appointing Subaramanium, as the amicus curiae to Srimandir, directed him to make field visits and submit a report on the implementation of the temple reform proposals.

However, Subaramanium, citing personal reasons, recently urged the SC Registrar to relieve him from the post.

It may be mentioned here that, the SC had appointed an amicus curiae after it heard a petition filed by one Mrinalini Padhi highlighting difficulties faced by the devotees at Srimandir and alleged harassment or exploitation by the servitors.

On June 8, the apex court asked the Puri District Judge to furnish a report on factual aspects of (a) Difficulties faced by the visitors, (b) Exploitative practices, if any, (c) Deficiencies in the management, if any, and (d) Suggestions, if any.

Following the directives, the Puri District Judge submitted a set of suggestions for reforms in Srimandir. The report suggested abolishing hereditary Sevaks and prohibiting the temple servitors to receive offerings.

During a hearing this year, Subaramanium was appointed as the amicus curiae by the apex court and was asked to submit a report based on reports.

Acting swiftly on the apex court’s directive, Subramanium visited the Jagannath Temple in September and held discussions with Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), the sevayat bodies, and the Puri district judge.

During this, another controversy sparked in Puri, after scores of residents went berserk opposing the queue system (Dhadi Darshan) for darshan at Srimandir. The mob also resorted to violence and vandalised SJTA’s property.

Taking note of the violence, the amicus curiae immediately sought a detailed report from the SJTA on the unruly situation that rocked the pilgrim city on October 3.  Later, the SC also sent a senior lawyer, Vivek Raja, to collect details on the violence.

But with senior lawyer Gopal Subaramanium, stepping down from the post; the Supreme Court is most likely to appoint new amicus curiae by December end to monitor the implementation of the proposed reforms for Puri Srimandir.

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