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Allahabad High Court says no tempering will be done with original Banke Bihari Ji temple at Vrindavan

The Allahabad High Court, while hearing the State Government’s development plans in Sri Thakur Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj at Vrindavan, said that no tampering will be done with the original temple of Banke Bihari Ji in the proposed development plan.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice J.J Munir heard a PIL filed by Anant Sharma and another.

Issue raised in the petition filed in public interest is for a direction to the State of U.P to frame a proper scheme for maintenance and upkeep of temple of Shri Thakur Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj at Vrindavan, especially the crowd management during festival days and holidays.

The only matter of concern, which we find at this stage for which a beginning needs to be made is to manage the crowd in the temple and the surrounding areas. More facilities need to be created, the Court said.

The order dated November 28, 2022, the Court had requested Justice Sudhir Narain Agarwal, retired Judge of the Court to visit the temple and submit a report to the Court. The report has been received. Along with the report, certain plans prepared by the State for development of the area around the temple have been placed.

The Court observed that it is evident from the aforesaid plans that the existing temple, as such, is not being disturbed. It will remain at the same place where the same exists today.

The Court noted that the only issue pointed out by Goyal, Additional Advocate General is that in case any conservation is required of the old structure, they may seek opinion of the experts in the field. Aseem Chandra, Advocate has pointed out that there is already a report submitted by IIT Delhi, which was placed before the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mathura.

The Court further said that,

Another issue on which there is no dispute is that the rights of the Sewayats for sewa of Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj shall not be disturbed in the process of development of the area around the temple.

Further what transpired at the time of hearing is that there are certain ancient temples which will come within the 5 acres of surrounding land proposed to be developed along with Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple. Those shall also be protected.

As has been mentioned in an application filed by Sanjay Goswami, Advocate for being impleaded as party to the litigation, approximately a sum of ₹ 250 Crores are lying in the account of Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple.

It is not a matter of dispute that the entire land which will be purchased in the vicinity of the Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari Ji Maharaj Temple will be registered in the name of the Deity.

Before the Court examined the prayer for utilization of the funds lying in the account of the Deity, let a detailed plan with estimated expenditure for purchase of land or development of the area around the temple be placed before the Court.

The Court further noted that there is reservation of the Goswami’s with regard to the constitution of the Trust for the management of the temple. The issue will require further consideration by the Court unless the same is resolved by the parties.

The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on January 17, 2023.

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