Decided on March 13,1973



- (1.) THE petitioners--some of the recorded Sevaks of Shree Jagannath Temple at puri -- assail in this writ petition the validity of various amendments brought about in the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 (Orissa Act 11 of 1955) by the various sections of the Shri Jagannath Temple (Amendment) Act, 1968 (Orissa Act 17 of 1968 ).
(2.) THE ancient temple of Lord Shree Jagannath Puri has ever since its inception been an institution of unique national importance. The Orissa Legisture first attempted to control public Hindu Religious endowments including the Shri jagannath temple at Puri by passing the Orissa Hindu Religious Endowment Act, 1939 (Orissa Act IV of 1939 ). Although this Act has undergone some amendments from tune to time, provisions made therein were not considered sufficient to control the administration of the Shree Jagannath temple and its endowments. The legislature, therefore, thought it expedient that a special legislation was necessary for this temple in view of its unique character and importance. As a first step in this direction, the Orissa Legislature passed an Act entitled the Puri Shri Jagannath temple (Administration) Act, 1952 (Orissa Act XIV of 1952) with a view inter alia to prevent mismanagement of the temple and its endowments by consolidation of the rights and duties of Sevaks, Pujaris and such other persons connected with the seva, Puja and Management thereof. This Act was subsequently amended by the shri Jagannath Temple (Administration Amendment) Act, 1954 (Orissa Act 1 of 1954 ). Section 3 of the Act (Orissa Act 14 of 1952) has conferred power on the state Government to appoint a Special Officer for the preparation of a record consolidating the rights and duties of different Sevaks and Pujaris and such other persons connected with the Seva, Puja and management of the temple or its endowments. Provision was made under Section 5 for publication of the records prepared by the Special Officer and it further provided that on publication the records shall be final and shall not be called in question in any Court of law, except in the manner provided in Section 6. Under Section 6, any person aggrieved by any entry in the record was given liberty to prefer objections before a District judge or any other Judicial Officer not below the rank of a District Judge specially appointed in that behalf. Such Judge was to hear the objections and to communicate his orders to the State Government who, in their turn, were to cause modifications, if any, in the record of rights to the extent indicated in the order.
(3.) IN the year 1954, the Legislature of the State of Orissa enacted the Shri jagannath Temple Act, 1954 (Orissa Act 11 of 1955) (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act) with a view to provide for, "better administration and governance therefor in supersession of all previous laws, regulations and arrangements, having regard to the ancient customs and usages and the unique and traditional nitis and rituals contained in the Record of Rights prepared under the Puri Shri jagannath Temple (Administration) Act, 1952. " that Act has undergone several amendments. The validity of the amendments brought about by the Shri Jagannath Temple (Amendment) Act, 1968 (Orissa Act 17 of 1968) (hereinafter referred to as the Amending Act) is the subject-matter of this writ application.;

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