The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to form an independent committee to review whether the “management practices” of shrines across the country are visitor-friendly. It also ordered a judicial enquiry into allegations of rampant fleecing and exploitation of worshippers by staffers and sevaks at the Puri Jagannath Temple in Odisha.
The court told the Centre that it wanted the panel to “collect information” on shrines across the country so that their management practices could be reviewed for the “benefit of all visitors.”
“There is no doubt that proper management of pilgrimage centres of great importance is a matter of public interest. These centres are of undoubted religious, social, historical and architectural importance, representing the cultural heritage of our country,” the court’s Vacation Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Ashok Bhushan observed in its five-page order.
As for the Puri Temple, the court ordered the Odisha government to constitute a committee to study the “management schemes” of various other important shrines and suggest changes. It must file an interim report by June 30.
The court ordered a review of the CCTV cameras. If required, more could be installed to cover blind spots. The footage would be viewed by an independent committee and it should report to the District Judge once a month.