Valuables in Ratna Bhandar safe, no need for inventory: SJTA tells Orissa High Court
CUTTACK: In a significant development, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has informed the Orissa High Court that the valuables stored in the Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of the Jagannath Temple in Puri are safe, and therefore, their inventory is not warranted.
Administrator (Niti), SJTA, Jitendra Kumar Sahoo took the stand while claiming in an affidavit that “the articles stored inside the Ratna Bhandar (inner and outer) are quite safe beyond any doubt”.
Sahoo informed that presently around 12,818 bhari (128 kg) of gold jewellery and 15,981 bhari (159 kg) of silver jewellery and utensils are stored in the Ratna Bhandar. Of them, 4,344 bhari (43kg) of gold jewellery and 11,507 bhari (115 kg) of silver ornaments are placed within the inner Ratna Bhandar.
“In view of the above facts and circumstances, it may not be necessary to constitute a committee to make inventory periodically as the properties/valuables are kept intact inside the Ratna Bhandar of Shree Jagannath Temple,” Sahoo stated.
According to the affidavit, inventory of the valuables was last done in 1978. Sahoo filed the affidavit on the court’s order on a PIL seeking stock-taking of the properties/valuables inside Ratna Bhandar. Lawyer Dilip Kumar Mohapatra had filed the PIL.
On October 18, 2022, the court first directed SJTA to file an affidavit in response to the PIL within four weeks. Then, in a reminder order on March 16, 2023, the court said, “Despite the order, to date, no affidavit has been filed by the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration, Puri in reply to the present petition. The reply should be positively filed on or before June 26, 2023.”
The SJTA had to comply with the direction and filed the affidavit. The petition was listed for hearing on Monday. But the matter could not be taken up owing to paucity of time.