The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday took up a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and issued notices to the Andhra Pradesh government over the ongoing row at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).
The TTD manages the affairs of the Lord Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala.
Anil Kumar Borugadda, a Guntur-based financial consultant, along with another petitioner, Bhupendra Goswami from Gujarat, have filed the petition questioning the intentions of the alleged digging work in the kitchen of the temple, which allegedly destroyed the inscriptions on the kitchen walls.
While the petitionersâ€™ counsel claimed that the TTD was destroying heritage under the guise of repair work, Andhra advocate-general D Srinivas said that there was no excavation work and insisted that all repairs were taken up after consulting the Agama shastras.
After hearing the matter, the court issued notices to the TTD executive officer (EO) and the state endowments department. They have been given three weeks to reply to the allegations.
The petitioners raised suspicion of the kitchen being dug up till the treasure room. Alleging vandalism, they also objected to the gold plating of the temple gopuram which would have destroyed the inscriptions on it.
Speaking to TNM last week, Anil Kumar had said, â€śWe are totally shocked by the revelations made by former chief priest Ramana Deekshithulu. If the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) did not indulge in any fishy activity, why donâ€™t they allow a CBI inquiry? I am speaking on behalf of all Indians. Tirumala is a holy temple. We are concerned about our heritage structure and the allegations of the missing jewellery.â€ť
In May, 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.
In a related development, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to Hyderabad HC Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan demanding a probe by a sitting judge, into the row.
Naidu requested the sitting judge to look into the allegations and go through the records before making the final report public.