Banke Bihari Temple Corridor| Allahabad HC seeks detailed plan with estimated expenditure

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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 authorities to place before it a detailed plan with estimated expenditure for purchase of land or development of the area around the Shri Banke Bihari Temple at Vrindavan.

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.

The Goswamis, also known as sevayats, who perform puja-archana and shringar at Shri Banke Bihari Temple have urged the court to ensure that the fund lying in the account of the Deity in the Temple should not be utilised for purchase of the said land. 

On December 20, Advocate Sanjay Goswami inform the division bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice JJ Munir that approximately a sum of ₹ 250 Crores are 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 bench 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.

On November 28, 2022, the same bench had requested retired high court judge Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal to visit the temple and submit a report. In his report, the retired judge mentioned the plans prepared by the State for the development of the area around the temple.

The report, however, made it clear that in this development the existing temple will not be disturbed and it will remain at the same place where the same exists today. 

During the course of the hearing, the court was apprised that there are certain ancient temples which will come within the 5 acres of surrounding land proposed to be developed along with the Bankey Bihari temple. The court ordered that those shall also be protected. 

Court also stressed that the rights of the Sewayats for sewa of Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj shall not be disturbed in the process of development of the area around the temple.

As per the State's scheme, besides use of purchase of five acres of land around the Temple, provision of other facilities such as parking area and other public amenities will be made for which the State will bear the expenses.

The court is currently seized with a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed by one Anant Sharma and another, essentially for a proper scheme for maintenance and upkeep of the temple of Shri Thakur Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj at Vrindavan, especially the crowd management during festival days and holidays. A number of other prayers have also been made through the petition.

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