SC seeks reply from Centre, others on PIL on Mahabodhi temple

Supreme Court asked Centre, Bihar government and ASI to respond to petition seeking directions to maintain transparency and accountability in finance and security of Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre, Bihar government and Archaeological Survey of India among others to respond to a petition seeking directions to maintain transparency and accountability in financial matters and security of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and M Y Eqbal issued notices on the PIL after petitioner Arup Bramchari, currently residing in Bodhgaya, alleged that there were "grave security lapses, financial and administrative mismanagement" by the temple management committee and also sought framing of guidelines for better preservation of the holy shrine.

The bench also said the petition would be tagged with a similar plea filed earlier challenging the validity of Section 3 of the Bodh Gaya Temple Act, 1949, under which government appoints a nine-member panel with a Hindu as its chairman and majority of its members being Hindus rather than Buddhists.

Besides alleging that there were mismanagement of funds of Mahabodhi temple and mal-administration by Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), Bramchari claimed that there were security lapses and cited the July 7 serial blasts at the famous Buddhist pilgrimage town.

Nine low-intensity serial blasts had rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex and adjacent areas, leaving two monks injured.

"The petitioner is seeking indulgence of this court for the reason that there are grave security lapses, financial and administrative mismanagement, serious irregularities and criminal charges regarding abuse of official capacity and power and moral character without following the procedure laid down by law exhibited by existing practice of the concerned officials...," the PIL, filed through advocate Ravi Shankar Kumar said.

It also alleged that "just to cover up the security lapses of the state authorities as well as mismanagement in the affairs of the Mahabodhi Temple the district administration, Gaya police, in collusion and connivance with the `BTMC` are harassing the traders who are peacefully running their business to support their livelihood in the vicinity of the Mahabodhi temple."

The petition also sought quashing of the provisions of `The Bodh Gaya Temple Act, 1949` saying they are ultra virus to provisions of the Constitution.

It also sought framing of guidelines for the preservation and maintenance of the Mahabodhi tree and to formulate security guidelines for the disciples, tourists and visitors of the shrine and its sites.

It also said appropriate directions should be issued to the respondents to "maintain transparency and accountability with regard to financial management, donations and similar inflow of funds of the `Mahabodhi Temple and its properties appertaining thereto`, and the same be annually audited by the Controller and Auditor General of India".

The petition also said that the temple should be declared as a national monument and it be protected under provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and rules as well as the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972.


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