Rejecting a petition against construction activities around the Puri Jagannath temple, the Supreme Court today tore into frivolous petitions or what it called “Publicity Interest Litigation”. The court also cleared Odisha’s Jagannath Temple redevelopment project “in larger public interest.”
Two petitions had challenged an Orissa High Court order allowing the Archeological Survey of India to assess any damage caused by construction around the temple. The High Court should have stopped further construction for the assessment, the petition said, arguing that such activities were causing cracks in the temple’s foundation.
The petitions also said toilets, a shelter for pilgrims, cloakrooms and other civic amenities were being built within a prohibited 100 metres around the temple. The state government, which is building a temple heritage corridor, said it wanted to set up the civic facilities for the upcoming Raht Yatra celebrations.
Such petitions were a “waste of time” and had to be nipped in the bud, Justices BR Gavai and Hima Kohli said. Each petition was dismissed with a fine of Rs one lakh.
“Can a state be stopped from making necessary arrangements for basic facilities to devotees? The answer is an emphatic no,” the judges said.
“In the recent past, we have noticed that there is mushroom growth of public interest litigations. However, in many of such petitions, there is no public interest involved at all. The petitions are either publicity interest litigations or personal interest litigation. We highly deprecate the practice of filing such frivolous petitions. They are nothing but abuse of the process of law. They encroach upon a valuable judicial time which could be otherwise utilised for considering genuine issues. It is high time that such so-called public interest litigations are nipped in the bud so that the developmental activities in the larger public interest are not stalled,” the said the Supreme Court.