The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday stayed the state government order (GO) appointing 52 members to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) trust board as special invitees.
Hearing three Public Interest Litigations (PILs), the court passed an interim order staying GO 568 appointing 50 members as special invitees and GO 569 appointing two others as ex-officio members.
The PILs were filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader G Bhanuprakash Reddy, Telugu Desam Party leader M Umamaheswara Naidu and Hindu Jansakhati Samkshema Sangham founder K. Lalit Kumar.
The petitioners argued that special invitees were appointed in violation of TTD norms. Bhanuprakash Reddy, a former TTD Trust Board member, said the move is illegal, arbitrary and contrary to section 96 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act of 1987 and violates Article 25 of the Constitution.
The petitioners’ counsels submitted before the court that the appointment of special invitees would impose a burden on the temple body and cause hardships to devotees.
The ruling YSRCP government, however, maintained that the appointments were made in accordance with the TTD rules.
The YSRCP government had on September 15 appointed a jumbo size trust board of the TTD which manages the affairs of the world’s richest temple at Tirumala.
The state government had issued three separate GOs constituting an 82-member trust board.
This is the biggest ever trust board formed by any state government since the inception of the TTD in 1932.
In addition to appointing 28 members to the trust board, the Andhra government nominated 52 special invitees with equal privileges as the member trustees.
While the first GO was issued to appoint 28 members, under the second GO Tirupati MLA Bhumana Karunakar Reddy and Brahmin Corporation Chairman Sudhakar were appointed as special invitees.
Under a third GO, the government named 50 more special invitees. According to the GO, the special invitees will be given privileges on par with the TTD trust board members when it comes to darshan (visiting the deity), and their tenure will be coterminous with that of the board. However, they will not have any voting rights when the board passes any resolutions.
In August, the ruling YSRCP government had appointed Y V Subba Reddy as Chairman and Chandragiri legislator Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy as ex-officio member to the TTD.
Subba Reddy, the maternal uncle of Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, has been appointed as TTD Chairman for a second term.