Allahabad High Court seeks State's reply on Vrindavan Banke Bihari Temple upkeep

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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 Allahabad High Court has directed the state government of Uttar Pradesh to file its counter affidavit in the Public Interest Litigation(PIL) plea filed seeking a proper scheme for the maintenance and upkeep of the temple of Shri Thakur Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj at Vrindavan.

While posting the matter for further hearing on February 14, 2023, the division bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice JJ Munir said that it will also pass an order on the impleadment application filed by the temple sevayats, on the next date fixed. 

In the present PIL, the sevayats, who perform puja-archana and shringar at the temple, have sought impleadment expressing their apprehension about the involvement of officers of local administration in the rights and policy and the other matters of the temple. 

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

When the present PIL was filed, the Goswamis, also known as sevayats, sought impleadment praying before the 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 under the corridor development plan.

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.

They further asserted that as per the Musif's scheme, 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.

Moreover, the Goswamis 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. 

In December last year, the high court had directed the state authorities to place before it a detailed plan with estimated expenditure for purchase of land or development of the area around the temple.

On December 20, Advocate Sanjay Goswami had informed the court that approximately a sum of ₹ 250 Crores is lying in the account of Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple. It is to be noted that the entire land which will be purchased in the vicinity of the temple will be registered in the name of the deity.

Therefore, the court had opined that before it examines the prayer for utilization of the funds lying in the account of the Deity, a detailed plan should be placed before it.

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