The Andhra Pradesh high court on Wednesday kept in abeyance the two orders issued by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government appointing as many as 52 special invitees to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams board, apart from 24 regular members.
Acting on a batch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions filed on Monday challenging the appointment of special invitees, the high court questioned the propriety of creating such a jumbo board causing inconvenience to the regular devotees.
The state government’s counsel, however, defended the move, stating that the appointment of special invitees was done only as per the norms and there was no violation of any rules.
However, the high court issued interim orders suspending the two GOs for a period of four weeks, pending completion of hearing and passage of final orders.
The petition challenging the two GOs (No. 568 and 569) was filed by advocate Y Balaji on behalf of TDP’s Kalyanadurgam in-charge Madineni Uma Maheshwara Naidu.
The petitioner wondered how many special invitees could be appointed by giving them all the privileges on par with regular members of the TTD Trust Board regarding darshan and their tenure.
He said the GOs were illegal, arbitrary and also contrary to the section 96 of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Acts, 1987, and also violation of Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioner said the decision would cause hardship and hurdle to have a darshan to the common public/devotees.
He requested that the high court intervene in the matter and ask the government to suspend the GO, appointing 52 special invitees.
He said the jumbo TTD trust board formed by the state government has more members than that of the Union Cabinet.
And also mentioned that it will be a herculean task for the board to manage the temple with having more than 80 members in the board.
In its GO, principal secretary to endowments department Vani Mohan said the scope of TTD administration spans across fields of development works, engineering, finance and accounting, marketing, media and publication, forestry, water supply and human resource management.
“The scale and scope of these activities necessitates inclusion of special invitees who are experts from various fields,” it said.
It further said the government wants to position the state as a preferred tourism destination nationally and globally, as also detailed in the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Policy 2020-2025.
“Tirupati being the most visited place in the State by domestic tourists attracting over 36 million worshippers annually, shall vastly benefit with the addition of eminent personalities as special invitees to the TTD,” it said.
It further said all the special invitees would have enjoy the privileges being given to the regular members, except voting rights in the trust board meeting.