The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea to free the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) from the control of the Andhra Pradesh government but granted him liberty to approach the High Court.
A bench of Justice Rohinton F. Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra refused to entertain Swamy's petition to challenge the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987, whereby the control and administration of the Hindu religious institutions in the state were taken over by the government.
Challenging their constitutional validity, Swamy argued that under the guise of sanction provided in the law to administer the religious institutions, the Andhra Pradesh government had virtually "usurped" the fundamental religious, administrative and cultural rights of the Hindu citizens and denominations.
The TTD is an independent trust that manages Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Tirumala, Sri Padmavathy Temple in Tiruchaanur and 11 other temples in Andhra Pradesh, among the richest temples in India in terms of annual income and assets.
The hereditary trustees, Mahants, Archakas and other temple-oriented communities, as well as worshippers who account for major offerings and funds of the religious institutions, have become "passive observers and distant onlookers" with practically no say in the religious matters, the plea said.
Swamy had moved the court shortly after former TTD chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu was sacked by authorities in May on the grounds that he exceeded the retirement age limit. However, this unceremonious sacking came after he levelled shocking allegations against the TTD administration on financial irregularities, and also raised suspicion that several old ornaments from the temple were missing.
Deekshithulu demanded for a CBI inquiry, and also pressed for bringing the TTD under the ambit of the RTI for transparency.
The TTD accused Deekshitulu of â€˜politicisingâ€™ temple affairs and threatened to take legal action against him.