SC rejects PIL against construction around Puri Jagannath Temple

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed pleas seeking to halt construction around the Puri Jagannath Temple under Srimandir Heritage Corridor project.

The court said that the plea was a publicity interest litigation and such petitions need to be nipped in the bud since they waste the time of the courts.

The apex court imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh each on both the petitioners.

“In the recent past it is noticed that there’s a mushrooming growth of PILs. Many such petitions are either publicity interest litigation or personal interest litigation. We deprecate the practice of filing such PILs as it is a waste of judicial time and it needs to be nipped in bud so that development work is not stalled,” a bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Hima Kohli observed.

The top court was hearing a challenge to an Orissa High Court order that had allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey assessing the damage, if any, caused by construction activity around the temple.

The Court held that the activities undertaken by the state are necessary in the larger public interest and are in tune with the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958 and also with the earlier directions issued by the Supreme Court in relation to the administration of the temple.

The Court observed that the construction activities are meant to provide facilities and amenities to of devotees.

“We have considered the argument that only individual can be allowed to construct toilets and state cannot. Can the state be denied when it finds it necessary in larger public interest to provide facilities to devotees? Answer is an emphatic no,” Justice Gavai stated reading out the operative portion of the order.