Banke Bihari temple Corridor| State can't use Temple fund to buy land: Goswamis argue before Allahabad HC

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The State Government has proposed to develop the temple area as a corridor for facilitating darshan and puja by the devotees.

The Goswamis, also known as sevayats, who perform puja-archana and shringar at Shri Banke Bihari Temple at Vrindavan, recently submitted before the Allahabad High Court that the fund lying in the account of the Deity in the Temple should not be utilised for purchase of five acres of land around the Temple, as proposed by the State.

In the Public Interest Litigation pertaining to the framing of a proper scheme for maintenance and upkeep of the temple, the sevayats, seeking impleadment, expressed their apprehension about the involvement of officers of local administration in the rights and policy and the other matters of the temple. 

Before the bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice JJ Munir, the counsel representing the Goswamis submitted that in terms of an order passed by the Munsif, Mathura in 1998, the affairs of the temple are being managed according to the scheme framed by the Munsif.

As per the scheme approved and being followed, the entire offering of the temple, either in cash or in-kind (valuables) is deposited in the bank account in the name of the Deity and the amount of interest earned thereon is spent for payment of salaries of the staff employed and other sundry expenses, he informed. 

He further submitted that for any other development or construction in the temple area, permission from the Munsif, Mathura is taken and when the committee is not there, then permission is taken from the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mathura.

Therefore, stating that their interest may be affected by passing any order in the present writ petition, the sevayats sought impleadment. 

A scheme has been proposed by the State Government for development of the temple area and its proper management. It has reference to the development of the temple area as a corridor, with purchase of about five acres of land around the temple for facilitating darshan and puja by the devotees.

Besides use of purchase of five acres of land around the Temple, for provision of other facilities such as parking area and other public amenities, the State will bear the expenses.

As per the scheme, a trust is also proposed to be constituted having eleven nominated members, which include two from the Goswamis in addition to six ex-officio members and one appointed by the State.

On the plea of the Goswamis, the division bench allowed time to the counsel for the State to seek instructions. 

The matter will be next heard on November 17, 2022. 

Case Title: Anant Sharma and another v. State of U.P. and others