About the ordinance –
- The Lingaraj Temple Ordinance of 2020 was introduced to manage the rituals and other activities of the temple and eight other associated temples.
- This was intended to be on similar lines of the special Act which manages the affairs of the Jagannath temple in Puri, one of the four dhams in India.
- At present, the Lingaraj temple is being governed under the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment Act.
- The ordinance was passed by the state cabinet on December 15, 2020.
- The ordinance vested the management of the temple in a 15-member Lingaraj Temple Managing Committee with a full-time administrator looking after day-to-day affairs of the shrine and its properties including temples outside the premises and mathas.
- A fund creation was proposed to deposit income derived from immovable and movable properties of the temple.
Central government’s argument against the ordinance-
- The Ministry of Home Affairs has said several sections of the proposed ordinance were in conflict with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958.
- The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
- The ministry has pointed out that the state government has already violated the AMASR Act around Lingaraj temple by building modern structures.
- The ministry contended that since the ordinance covers 12 centrally protected monuments including the Lingaraj temple and three tanks, it was outside the legislative competence of the state legislature as it violates the provisions of AMASR Act.
- The ministry has further said that an independent Act vesting administrative powers to a managing committee, thus facilitating dual administrative authorities will result in conflict.
- The clause 15(2) of the Odisha ordinance has a provision for retail shops for sale of commodities inside or outside of the temples. But as per AMASR Act a monument should not be used for any other purposes not consistent with its character.
- Similarly, as per clause 17(3) of the Odisha ordinance, the managing committee will oversee the lease or sale of movable or immovable property attached with the Lingaraj temple. But the ministry contended that movable property may include archaeological or artistic objects (meaning antiques) and in that case, it will be in conflict with the AMASR Act, 1958.
- Under clause 22(2d) of the ordinance which provides for certain powers to the temple committee to undertake repairs, for which the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is responsible, and hence is also in contradiction with the provision of the AMASR Act, 1958.
- The center also contended that constructions can only be allowed by the National Monuments Authority.
- Another clause which facilitates special darshan on payment of a fee was also found in violation of the existing agreement between ASI and temple management; which clearly stipulates the public would have free access to the monument.
About the temple-
- Lingaraj temple, the largest in Bhubaneswar, was constructed by King Jajati Keshari in the 10th Century and completed by King Lalatendu Keshari in the 11th Century of the Somavamshi or Keshari dynasty.
- It is a temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
- It represents the quintessence of the Kalinga Architecture and culminates the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
- Some additions to the temple were also made by the Ganga rulers.
- It is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata mandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.
- Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise.
- The temple also has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of the Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.
- It is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the ASI.
Further reading: https://journalsofindia.com/jagannath-temple-act/