Two separate writ petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to replace the “Jalhari” of the Pashupatinath temple with a golden one. The former treasurer of Pashupati Area Development Fund Narottam Vaidya, who is also a member of the provincial assembly, and advocate Nikita Dhungana had filed the petition on Monday. Both the petitioners also appointed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as the trustee of the trust. Minister for Culture Bhanubhakta Dhakal and member secretary of the trust Pradip Dhakal and Guthi Sansthan are the defendants.
Petitioners argued that the government’s decision was contrary to the Antiquities Preservation Act, 2013, which states that structures older than 100 years should be preserved in their original design. “The government’s decision also violates UNESCO World Heritage standards and goes against the spirit of secularism. The government is not allowed to distribute money in the name of religion,” Vaidya said in a phone post.
Meanwhile, Dhungana has raised the issue that the government has not complied with the Public Procurement Act. On January 25, Oli went to the Pashupatinath temple for special worship. There, he announced that the government would provide Rs 300 million to the temple to set up a new Golden Jalhari and directed the Ministry of Culture to allocate this amount.
Since then, the Pashupati Area Development Fund has been working to establish Golden Jalhari instead of silver under the strict security arrangements provided by the Nepal Army. The government’s decision has been widely criticized. Although Oli announced that the Pashupatinath temple would raise a large sum of money from the state treasury, there was controversy at the time. After announcing the decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and the snap poll. Despite the criticism, the trust is planning to install a Golden Jalhari in the temple before the Mahashivaratri festival on March 11.