Cuttack: Orissa High Court today cancelled all land transactions related to the 2.865 acres of Lingaraj temple land near Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar on which the Assotech Group was constructing a five star hotel under the Radisson Hotel brand.
The court quashed the tripartite agreement, by way of which the state government had decided on June 22, 2003, to facilitate the Lingaraj temple to lease out the land for the proposed deluxe hotel.
The tripartite was between the Lingaraj Temple Trust, general administration department of the state government and the Assotech Milan Resorts (P) Ltd. It provided for sharing of the lease proceeds on a 60:40-basis between the trust and the government department.
Niranjan Mekap and some others had filed a petition challenging the tripartite agreement. The petitioner was the son of the late Govinda Mekap, who was provided the two-and-a-half acres of temple land in lieu of his service as a sevayat.
"The division bench of Justice Indrajit Mohanty and Justice B.N. Mohapatra quashed the agreement while ruling that it is impermissible and not sustainable in law having no legal foundation," petitioner counsel Iswar Chandra Dash told The Telegraph today.
According to land records, the two-and-a-half acre land patch had changed several hands after Govinda Mekap had executed an unregistered lease deed in favour of D. Anand Rao Dora and his brothers in 1965. The Assotech Group was the last to buy the property in 2009.
The court ruled that the sevayats have no alienable right to sell or lease out the land.
In January 2011, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) had sanctioned construction of the hotel concerned.
In 2011, the general administration department wrote to the BDA that since the title of the land now stood recorded in the name of the general administration department, the construction should be stopped. BDA had issued a direction to stop the construction on October 1, 2011. Assotech challenged the showcause notice issued by BDA.
In that case, the high court had prohibited further construction. The case was dismissed after the petitioner withdrew his petition.
There are two types of land associated with Lord Lingaraj - land under personal possession of the deity and land allotted to the servitors in lieu of the latter's services rendered to the Lord.
Taking into account the land in the possession of the deity and the servitors, the 11th century temple has more than 500 acres.