NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 9, 2018 (Daily Pioneer): Paying a visit to the Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri may now become easier for devotees who have to face extreme hardship in offering prayers there. The Supreme Court on Friday directed both the Odisha Government and the Centre to set up separate committees to study the best management practices followed by shrines of national importance across the country and recommend changes to be carried out in administration of the temple by June 30. The direction came on a PIL that highlighted poor hygiene, harassment faced by devotees, malpractices by sebayats (sevaks) who perform rituals, and misappropriation of offerings made to the temple offertory.
A Vacation Bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Ashok Bhushan ordered a probe by the District Judge, Puri, into these allegations and sought an interim report from him by July 5. For suggesting measures to reform the existing practices followed in the temple, the Bench directed both the Odisha Government and the Centre to set up separate committees to study the best management practices followed by shrines such as Vaishno Devi in Jammu & Kashmir, Somnath temple in Gujarat, Golden Temple in Punjab, Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh and Dharamsthala temple in Karnataka. The temple being one of the four great Char Dham pilgrimage sites (four divine sites) comprising of Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka, considered sacred to Hindus, the Bench said, "These centres are of undoubted religious, social, historical, and architectural importance, representing cultural heritage of the country."