The plea alleges that the government has misused the temple funds and destroyed the heritage of the temples under its control.

Subramanian Swamy challenges AP govts control over temples moves HC demanding audit
news High Court Thursday, October 04, 2018 - 09:10

Challenging the constitutional validity of the Andhra Pradesh government’s control over 11 temples, including the Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and a law student filed a petition with the Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday. 

The Andhra Pradesh government exerts control over the temples under the AP Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987. Swamy and the law student Satya Paul Sabharwal, have challenged various provisions of the said Act. 

They had earlier approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to free the temples from state government control. The Supreme Court had then asked the duo to move the Hyderabad High Court with regard to their plea.

Swamy and the law student in their petition contended that the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD), formed under the 1987 Act to oversee the functioning of the temples, includes the Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala, the Sri Padmavati temple in Tirucanur and other major temples in the state, which were the richest in the country in terms of annual income and asset holdings.

In their plea to the HC, the duo argue that the AP government’s administration of these temples had, “virtually usurped the fundamental and cultural rights of Hindu citizens and denominations.” They further state that “the hereditary trustees, archakas and other temple-oriented communities who account for a major source of offerings and funds of the religious institutions had become passive observers and onlookers with practically no say in religious matters.“

The plea also alleges that the AP government has misused the temple funds and has destroyed the heritage of the temples. They refer to the TTD’s budget of Rs 2,678 crore for 2016-17 and allege that the TTD did not have an external audit of its accounts and that money was diverted from the TTD funds. The plea points out that Rs 165 crore as grants and contributions, Rs 160 crore for engineering works, Rs 200 crore for outsourcing was mentioned in the budget but with no breakdown nor explanations. 

The duo has urged the High Court to direct the AP government and the TTD to conduct an external audit of accounts, fund utilisation and temple assets, including land and jewellery for the past three years. The plea demands a report of the audit to be submitted to the court. 

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