Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court has asked the petitioners challenging the demolition of Mutts and other heritage structures around Puri Jaganath Temple to approach the Odisha High Court.

A writ petition was filed by Indic Collective before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Mahants of Punjabi Mutts, Radhaballabha Mutts and followers of  Vaishnava Sampradaya challenging the demolition drive. The matter was listed on the 30th September before justices  Arun Mishra and Ravindra Bhatt as Item No. 32 in Court 3. The petitioners were represented by senior counsel Mohan Parasaran, arguing counsel  Sai Deepak  and advocate on  record  Suvi Dutt.

The apex court granted liberty to the petitioners to challenge the demolition drive before the Odisha high court. Further, it has granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the Supreme Court should the petitioner have any grievance with any other orders which may passed by the Odisha high court.

The apex court, however, while acknowledging the validity of the concerns of the petitioners, said that it would not pass any order endorsing the demolition in pending petition.

The Indic Collective Trust, at a presser on Tuesday, expressed its deep shock and anguish at the recent events surrounding the demolition of heritage structures around the Jagannath Temple at Puri.

The trustee of Indic Collective, Ravilochan Iyengar, said that  act of demolishing such centuries old structures, is blatantly against the letter and spirit of the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which prohibits any agency from modifying physically or otherwise the nature of a place of worship of any community.

Intach member and environmentalist Dr. Biswajit Mohanty said that the mutts that have been demolished so far (3 out of the 18 structures notified for demolition) have deep historic ties to the temple and its rituals and are of great religious importance to the millions of adherents of the respective denominations. In demolishing these structures, the un-elected officials, in their high handedness have trampled upon the rights under Article 26 of these devotees of various denominations.

The Emar Mutt was founded by the great Vaishnavite saint Shri Ramanuja himself and having visited and stayed there, And was a place of immense religious significance to Vaishnavites across India. The Bada Akhada Mutt was the abode of Ramanand, who had stayed and carried out his work from the place. It held significance for the Naga sect.We would also like to place on record that the Archaeological Survey of India has certified eight structures in the proposed demolition drive to be heritage structures. The  abject failure of the ASI to intervene and protect the monuments, which it has declared to be heritage structures. In this regard, the failure of the ministry of culture officials to intercede has also been a sore disappointment.The unsubstantiated claims of these structures being unsafe for habitation were floated to support the case for demolition. It is important to note, that the Raghunandan library was recently renovated and all the demolished structures were certified as safe by the government officials themselves.

Intach member Anil Dhir condemned the strong arming tactics employed by the government officials, with regard to their treatment of Shri Ramanuja Das of Emar Mutt, by intimidatory presence of a thousand strong police contingent in front of the mutt premises.