Allahabad High Court Approves Banke Bihari Temple Corridor, Citing Constitutional Provisions for Devotee Facilities and Safety

Allahabad High Court Approves Banke Bihari Temple Corridor, Citing Constitutional Provisions for Devotee Facilities and Safety

Lucknow, November 21 (HS): The Allahabad High Court has granted approval for the Uttar Pradesh Government’s proposal to construct the Vrindavan (Mathura) Banke Bihari Temple Corridor, citing the provisions of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. The court has directed the removal of all encroachments surrounding the temple but has restricted the utilization of ?262.5 crore from the deity’s bank account for corridor development.

In a verdict delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava, the court emphasized that the deity’s funds in the bank cannot be utilized for corridor development. It underscored the government’s responsibility to employ its own resources for secular purposes.

The court’s decision came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding crowd management and pilgrim safety at the Banke Bihari Temple. The court acknowledged the concerns raised by the temple administration and recognized the challenges posed by conflicts among Sevayats (servitors).

Highlighting the significance of effective temple management for the public, including its religious, social, historical, and cultural importance, the court directed the State to proceed with the planned temple project. Referring to Articles 25 and 26, the court stressed that the government must act in accordance with the law to provide improved facilities for devotees.

The court further emphasized the importance of public safety, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Gulam Abbas vs. State of Uttar Pradesh. It stated, “Human life cannot be jeopardized merely because someone objects. In our view, even in private temples where devotees come for Darshan, the protection of human life must be given precedence, and the government is duty-bound to take necessary precautions,” concluded the bench.

The court directed the state to seek the assistance of technical experts if necessary and imposed stringent restrictions on road encroachments. It also called on the government to ensure that devotees’ Darshan (viewing of the deity) is not hindered in any way, except during the implementation of the project, for which suitable alternative arrangements must be provided.

The court reserved its decisions on the rights of the parties for a later date. The proposed development project aims to acquire five acres of land for temple facilities while respecting the rights of the Goswamis (temple custodians). The PIL addressed issues related to public order management near the Banke Bihari Temple, with a focus on conflicts among Goswamis and safety concerns due to inadequate temple supervision. A merchant and citizen intervention application also raised concerns about the extension near the ‘Kunj Galis.’

Report by Abhishek Awasthi
Credit: Hindusthan Samachar

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