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CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the State government not to shift the seized silver slabs from Puri Emar Mutt which were recovered from a closed room on the mutt premises during a police investigation last month. The government was also directed to deploy adequate security in and around the mutt for the safety of the valuables and the life of the Mutt inmates.
Adjudicating over a writ filed by the Mahanta of the mutt, a single judge bench of Justice M M Das called for the case diaries of two police cases registered in this connection at Dhenkanal and Puri districts and posted the case for April 4.
In a joint raid as a follow-up to a theft case investigation, Dhenkanal and Puri police on February 26 stumbled upon at least 522 pieces of silver slabs each weighing between 35-40 kg stacked in a wooden box. The current market value of the seized white metal slabs is pegged at over Rs 80 crore.
Claiming that the hidden treasures belong to the mutt and as per the provisions of Hindu Religious Endowment Act the riches should be kept in the account of the mutt on being pledged to the State endowment commissioner, Mahanta Rajgopal Ramanuja Das.
Alleging that the government was trying to stake its claim over the seized treasures, the petitioner had suggested that the valuables should be put under a public auction and the realized amount be kept as fixed deposit in the name of the mutt after deduction of any legally chargeable taxes to the Government.
“Although, pleas on similar line were made before the Endowment commissioner and Puri SP, government officials are not paying any heed to it”, the petitioner alleged saying that the central range revenue divisional commissioner who is also the chief administrator of Jagannath Temple was trying to remove the properties from the mutt premises.
Though the police had seized the properties, they had failed to provide a seizure list yet, said the petitioner advocate Kishore Kumar Jena.
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