New Contempt Petition For Inaction On HC Order On Provisions For PwDs In Puri Jagannath Temple

Cuttack: A fresh contempt petition has been filed in the Orissa High Court over the issue of providing facilities for movement of persons with disability (PwD) in Shree Jagannath temple in Puri.

This is for the second time that a contempt petition has been moved since the HC’s orders on making provisions for free movement of PwDs and wheelchair-bound devotees in the temple complex were not complied with by the shrine authorities.

The court in an order on February 28, 2022 had directed the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee and chief administrator of the temple to collectively take a decision on the matter within one month.

Jitendra Biswal, a quadraplegic and Bhubaneswar-based social activist, had filed the petition with a prayer to make the 12th century shrine disabled friendly. After the court’s order was not complied with, Biswal filed a contempt petition in August 2022. The court had disposed of the contempt petition on December 20, 2022 while granting the authorities one more month’s time to take action on the petitioner’s representation.

Biswal has now filed a contempt petition again alleging non-compliance of the December 20, 2022 order. The HC is yet to take note of this petition.

The petition on which the court’s order was issued expected the authorities to make designated space within the inner sanctum of the Jagannath temple for wheelchair-bound devotees to offer their prayers and have a clear view of the three deities. The petition also expected the authorities to make such other provisions that may be required within the temple complex for free movement of wheelchair-bound devotees.

Biswal said since there was no action even nearly after five months of the passing of the above Order by the High Court, he has moved the HC again by filing another contempt petition.

While the state government can boast of building world’s largest hockey stadium in record time and hold consecutive World Cup Hockey Tournaments and run state sponsored international flights to Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok — not heeding to our plea to do the basic to make Jagannath Temple wheelchair accessible, only shows how apathetic it is towards the demands of the disabled community despite the plea being backed by repeated High Court orders, he added.

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