The Allahabad high court on Monday gave the green light to the Uttar Pradesh government's plan to build a corridor for the famed Banke Bihari Temple in Mathura for the convenience of devotees.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by Anand Sharma and another person from Mathura.
Earlier, the state government placed before the court the scheme regarding the corridor development that will involve the purchase of about five acres of land around the temple for facilitating darshan and puja by devotees.
According to the scheme, there would be no interference of any kind in the 'puja, archana or shringar' carried out by the Goswamis and whatever right they have shall be continued to be enjoyed by them.
The government will also create facilities such as parking area and the cost would be borne by it.
After hearing the parties concerned, the high court said, "The state government to proceed with the implementation of plans and scheme submitted to this court, which the court finds appropriate and necessary in the interest of justice. We leave it open for the state government to take whatever steps it deems appropriate after consultation with the technical experts in the field for implementing the scheme."
On the issue of encroachment around the temple premises, the court observed, "The state government is also free to take appropriate steps for removing the encroachment over the approach roads (galis) to the temple."
The state government, after implementation of the scheme, "is expected to ensure that no further obstructions/encroachment be allowed to come up on the approach roads to the temple," the court stated.
On the issue of devotees facing problems during the period of development of the corridor, the bench observed, "We make it clear that darshan of the devotees shall not be hampered in any manner, except for the implementation of the scheme, during which appropriate alternative arrangements shall be made. The present management along with all the stakeholders are directed to ensure that darshan of the devotees are not restricted in any manner and by anyone."
"The district authorities are also directed to ensure strict compliance of the above directions and any act of violation shall be reported to this court," it stated.
In the PIL, it was said that on account of huge gathering of devotees there are law and order problems and numerous FIRs have been registered for theft, loot and loss of property.
Instances of deaths of devotees on account of huge gathering was also highlighted in the petition.
According to the petitioner, the local administration which is duty bound to manage the gathering and ensure proper walking corridors to the temple has utterly failed in its obligation. In spite of numerous mishappenings, no steps were taken by the district administration or by the state government, the PIL stated.
The high court fixed January 31, 2024 as the next date of hearing on the PIL.