J.P. BADONI Vs. STATE OF UTTARAKHAND AND OTHERS
HIGH COURT OF UTTARAKHAND
State of Uttarakhand and others
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Barin Ghosh, J. -
(1.) HEARD learned counsel for the parties. Perused the records of the case.
(2.) IT appears that in 1996, a few people died by reason of stampede on a bridge at Hardwar. The then State Government appointed a one -man inquiry commission for the purpose of ascertaining the reason of the said stampede and the manner and means to prevent the same. The Commission submitted its report in 1996, where, amongst others, it observed that the trustees of Ganga Sabha and the trustees of Mansa Devi Temple and Chandi Devi Temple are collecting huge sums of moneys from the pilgrims but those moneys are not being spent for the improvement of the facilities for pilgrims and also for improvement of charitable religious properties. The Commission recommended that the State Government must take action as it took in relation to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and as the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir took steps in relation to Vaishno Devi Temple. As it appears to us, this recommendation by the Commission was beyond the scope of reference to the Commission. We feel that in such view of the matter, the State Government did not give much credence to the said recommendation. The matter remained pending until the present writ petition was filed in 2011, whereby and under, the writ petitioner is seeking a direction upon the State Government to take steps as the State of Uttar Pradesh had taken in respect of Kashi Vishwanath Temple. In its counter affidavit, the State Government has indicated that the matter is complex and as yet it has not been able to make up its mind one way or the other. We feel that it is beyond the competence of this Court to issue such direction, inasmuch as in order to implement such direction the State Government would be required to legislate and the Court is incompetent to direct the State Government to legislate. From the pleadings of the parties, it appears that during the British Raj an attempt was made to divert the flow of river Ganga. In the event such attempt was successful, the flow of river Ganga near Har -ki -Pairi at Hardwar would have stopped. Since a large section of the people professing Hindu religion have faith and belief that flow of river Ganga over Har -ki -Pairi has a great religious significance, people started a movement to stop the then British Government to stop flow of river Ganga over Har -ki -Pairi. The movement of the people succeeded and the then British Government agreed not to stop flow of river Ganga near Har -ki -Pairi. It appears to be the contention of the parties herein that the said movement ultimately gave birth to Ganga Sabha, which, later on, became a registered society for the purpose of carrying out charitable religious work associated with river Ganga flowing near Har -ki -Pairi and in the nearby Ghats. It is claimed and contended by the present trustees of Ganga Sabha that persons associated with Ganga Sabha are dedicated to help pilgrims to perform their Poojas and to complete their religious journey to Har -ki -Pairi. At the same time, it has also been accepted by them that for the purpose of carrying out such charitable religious activities, Ganga Sabha collects donations from people and for that purpose has installed donation boxes in and around Har -ki -Pairi and nearby Ghats.
(3.) THERE is no dispute that both Chandi Devi Temple and Mansa Devi Temple are ancient temples carrying ancient Hindu heritage associated with them. In the passage of time the management and administration of these temples vested in the trustees, who discharge duties and responsibilities vested in trustees of public religious and charitable trusts. It is also true that the trustees of these trusts do collect donations in the form of offerings given to the deities installed in these temples and also donations given otherwise.;
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