Banke Bihari Temple Corridor: Allahabad HC Approves UP Govt's Proposal for Crowd Mgmt, Limits Utilization of Deity's Funds

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Court has approved the Uttar Pradesh Government's Banke Bihari temple corridor project, ensuring the preservation of temple rituals while placing restrictions on the use of the Deity's funds for the project

The Allahabad High Court has approved the Uttar Pradesh Government's proposal for the Vrindavan (Mathura) Banke Bihari Temple Corridor, citing Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. The court has instructed the removal of encroachments around the temple. However, it restrained the use of Rs 262.50 Crores from the Deity's bank account for corridor construction.

The bench of Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava stated that the Deity's funds in the bank are off-limits for corridor construction. The court emphasized the government's use of its own funds for secular activities.

This decision came in a PIL regarding crowd management and pilgrim safety at the Banke Bihari Temple. The court noted issues in temple management and acknowledged difficulties arising from disputes among Sevayats.

The court emphasized the public interest in proper temple management, citing religious, social, historical, and cultural significance. It directed the State to implement the proposed scheme for the Temple.

Quoting Articles 25 and 26, the court asserted that the government must act in accordance with the law to provide better facilities for devotees. It also emphasized the importance of public safety, referencing the Supreme Court decision in Gulam Abbas Vs. State of U.P.

"Human life cannot be put at stake just because somebody has objection. In our opinion, even the private Temples where devotees come for Darshan, safety of human life is required to be treated of utmost importance and the Government is bound to make necessary arrangements," said the bench.

The court directed the State to involve technical experts if needed and issued strict guidelines on road encroachments. It also directed the government to ensure that devotees' Darshan is not hampered in any manner, except for the implementation of the Scheme, during which appropriate alternative arrangements shall be made.

The court left questions about the parties' rights open for future consideration.

The proposed development scheme aims to acquire 5 acres for temple facilitation, ensuring no interference with Goswamis' rights. The PI addressed public order management around the Banke Bihari Temple, highlighting disputes among Goswamis and safety concerns due to the lack of temple management. An intervention application by shopkeepers and residents also opposed the expansion near the sacred 'Kunj Galis.'

Case Title: Anant Sharma And Another v. State Of U P And 3 Others