The Supreme Court has called out the government of Odisha for demolishing old mutts around the Jagannath temple in Puri. The state government has claimed that these mutts were “old” and “dilapidated” whereas, the activists said that these mutts were essential to worship in the temple. The apex court has asked the state government to stop the demolition of the mutts immediately. They directed the government to consult spiritual leaders like Puri Shankaracharya and other stakeholders before taking any step.
The Supreme Court has also directed that the state government will not be proceeding with the proposed demolition of the two historic Sikh mutts in Puri. It is believed that Guru Nanak stayed in one of these mutts. Thus, these places hold immense significance because of the ties between the temple and the Sikh community. The apex court heard the matter after public interest litigation was filed to seek the court’s intervention for ensuring pilgrims' better safety and administration. A three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra was hearing the case.
The apex court asked that state government to avoid their interference into religious matters. They said that the government should not “interfere in rituals of the religion if it doesn’t understand them”. The court said, “Something is very wrong here. How can you destroy mutts like this? The aura of the temple may be destroyed, the very soul of the temple is necessary to maintain the main deity.” The state government, in their defence, claimed that these buildings were 60-70 years old. Additionally, the government said that it had secured the “consent” of the management and they would rehabilitate them at alternative sites.
Justice Mishra said, “The state has behaved in a crude way in this instance. Some of these mutts are essential for worshipping the main deity in the temple. The state must ensure that these are not destroyed. The sentiments of the people must be respected. What is required must be maintained. You cannot just go in and say we will develop. Improve it the proper way.”