The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the governing body of the Lord Venkateswara temple in Andhra Pradesh, over ornaments allegedly missing from the premises.
The CIC specifically sought to know about the ornaments donated by 16th century Vijayanagara ruler Sri Krishna Devaraya to the temple and also asked for a reply from the the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the state's Culture Ministry.
PTI reported that the CIC also issued a notice to the Prime Minister's Office on whether the Union government planned to declare Tirumala temples as a historical and national heritage monument, after a plea by one BKSR Ayyangar.
"The Culture Ministry under the leadership of the PMO is expected to take all measures to ensure the protection of the national or world heritage coupled with the ancient Hindu Religious Organisation like TTD," the petitioner was quoted as saying.
The issue has assumed significance since May this year, when Ramana Deekshithulu, the former chief priest of TTD, made a shocking claim that several old precious jewels were missing from Tirumala. He also alleged financial irregularities by the TTD, besides stating that the TTD authorities with scant regard for the heritage monument were vandalising it.
He demanded that the TTD should be brought under the ambit of RTI for transparency in its functioning.
Following his allegations, he was sacked from the TTD on grounds of exceeding the retirement age of 65. However, Deekshithulu continued making the allegations, inviting a Rs 100 crore defamation suit from the TTD.
Meanwhile, TTD authorities have rubbished the allegations made by Deekshithulu, citing several enquiry reports over the decades, that claimed that the jewels were intact.
Responding to his allegations in a press meet, AP Deputy Chief Minister K E Krishnamurthy told reporters, â€œIt seems Deekshitulu has left his traditional job and entered into politics. He behaved irresponsibly, and in a manner that tarnished the reputation of the temple. The government will take a serious note of this issue. It is against the rules of the temple for a chief priest to hold a press conference and talk politics."