The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the affairs of the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala, to rationalise the price structure of various food items being sold at eateries in the temple town.
The HC was hearing a PIL filed by a devotee, and had summoned TTD executive officer AK Singhal on Tuesday for non-compliance of an earlier order.
The irked court pointed out that some hotels were charging as much as Rs 100, for an item that was supposed to be sold at Rs 10, and asked the TTD authorities if they were working with the shop owners to loot devotees.
The TTD EO's counsel informed the court that a fine of about Rs 21 lakh was imposed on erring hoteliers as of October 28, following which the court adjourned the case to November 14,and asked for further details on the violators and the fines that they paid.
Last month, the court directed the EO of the TTD to appear before the court in a week, and file an action taken report on the court's previous order.
The counsel for the TTD said that they had imposed a fine on erring hoteliers, but that did not satisfy the court.
“You have said that you imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on such hoteliers. What impact will it have if their daily income itself is more than Rs 50,000. They will pay the penalty and continue their irregularities...The EO thinks he is above law. Hence, let him come and assist this court," the bench was quoted as saying.
In November last year, the court asked the TTD to regulate errant hoteliers, traders and shop owners in Tirumala.
The court's directive came after a public interest petition by a devotee, that many shopkeepers and restaurant owners in the temple town fleeced the devotees following demonetisation by the Centre, as many charged a 'commission' of Rs 50 or Rs 100 to exchange a Rs 500 note.
The TTD, which manages the richest Hindu temple in the world, has stated that it clocks around 1 lakh visitors on a daily basis, and a Hundi collection of nearly Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 crore every day.