The Allahabad High Court has appointed Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal (Retired) to examine the Uttar Pradesh government’s proposal for management and upkeep of Shri Thakur Banke Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple at Vrindavan.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice J.J. Munir passed this order, while hearing a PIL filed by Anant Sharma and another.
Issue raised in the petition filed in public interest is regarding preparation of a proper scheme for management and upkeep of Shri Thakur Banke Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple at Vrindavan.
In the affidavit filed by the Special Secretary, Dharmarth Karya, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow dated September 28, 2022, a plan has been placed before the Court regarding development of the entire area and management of the temple.
Counsel appearing for the Goswamis, who perform Sewa in the temple, has expressed certain reservations about the scheme and requested that the same be examined by a retired Judge of the Court before consideration by the Court.
It is agreed by the counsel for the parties that the proposal for management of the temple, as submitted by the State, be examined by Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal, a retired Judge of the Court, who may submit a report to the Court.
The Court said that,
It is not in dispute that in the process, which has been suggested by the State, the rights of Goswamis are not being affected.
As pointed out by counsel assisting the Court, the State has not placed on record any proposed/draft plan as to how the area is to be developed.
Let a copy of any such plan be submitted to Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal (Retired) by the State.
Let a copy of the order, writ petition and the affidavit dated September 28, 2022, filed by the Special Secretary, Dharmarth Karya, Government of Uttar Pradesh, be also supplied to Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal (Retired) by the Registrar (Compliance) of the Court.
The State shall provide all facilities to Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal (Retired) for travelling, lodging and boarding to the temple as and when required. The State shall pay an honorarium of Rs 1,00,000 to him.
Before parting with the matter, the Court are constrained to notice a communication dated November 10, 2022 written by the District Magistrate/Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura to the District Judge, Mathura with reference to a matter pending on the judicial side in the Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mathura.
The Court further said that an order has been passed by the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mathura on November 14, 2022. It is with reference to increase in the Darshan timing of the temple and, accordingly, making some adjustments regarding Arti and Bhog.
The Court is not touching on the merits of the controversy. However, the court strongly deprecates the process adopted by the District Magistrate/Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura, writing a letter to the District Judge in a matter pending on the judicial side. Due process as known to law should have been followed in case clarification of any earlier order or any fresh order is required to be passed by a Court.
As the number of devotees on certain occasions or days is large, the Court expects that the Goswamis and the local administration will cooperate and manage the same so as to avoid any untoward incident.
‘As a process unknown to law has been followed in a matter which is pending on the judicial side, we have no other option but to exercise our powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India and stay operation of the order dated November 14, 2022 passed by the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mathura. Adjourned to December 16, 2022’, the order read.