The VIP darshan system that gave preferential treatment to the family members of the officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) and other VIPs at Tirumala and Tirupathi temples in Andhra Pradesh may soon be scrapped. The system of giving ticketed entry to some VIPs so that they can skip the queues and the crowd had led to accusations of discrimination and corruption by touts who allegedly rigged the ticketing system.
The list darshan categories, which were introduced when the TDP government was in power, will soon be scrapped, the TTD Trust Board Chairman YV Subba Reddy told The New Indian Express on Friday. His comment comes at a time when the Andhra Pradesh High Court is expected to hear a PIL seeking the scrapping of the list based system of VIP entry. The PIL filed was by Umesh Chandra, a high court lawyer in March earlier this year, and the high court will be hearing the same on Monday.
Under the list system, a Tirumala Tirupati VIP Break Darshan is divided into lists: L1, L2 and L3, with L1 being at the top. Each VIP ticket costs Rs 500 per person. The L1 list is for VVIP officials like judges, higher cadre officials in government organisations and the high cadre political group. The L2 is for TTD employees, their family members and lower level of officials and government representatives. Those applying to the L3 layer can gain VIP access through recommendation letters obtained from sitting MPs, legislators, higher cadre officials and TTD employees.
The TTD chairman said there would still be a provision for visiting dignitaries but the practice of segregating devotees based on lists needs to be stopped. A final call is expected to be taken once the meeting of the TTD board commences.
Speaking to TNM, Umesh Chandra, the petitioner who has moved high court against these lists said that the L1, L2 and L3 system that is currently being used does not honour the customs of the temples, it is discriminatory and is an infringement of the right to equality.
"The TTD Act says if any new system is to be implemented at the temples, it should satisfy the use of the system and respect the customs of the temple. In court, they (temple authorities) were able to establish the use of the system but not custom. The list system is discriminatory and hence against the customs of the temple. The arguments will continue on Monday,” he said.
The lawyer welcomed the idea of scrapping the VIP treatment announced by the TTD chairman.