Subramanian Swamy Moves High Court for Liberation of Tirumala Temple from Government Control

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Rajya Sabha member and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and a law student filed a PIL in the High Court here on Wednesday seeking the liberation of Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple at Tirumala, Sri Padmavati temple at Tiruchaanur near Tirupati and 11 other temples in Andhra Pradesh from the State government’s control.

He also sought audit of the accounts and properties, including jewellery, of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for the past three financial years.

The petitioners, Swamy and Satya Paul Sabharwal, challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 15, 29, 96, 97, 97-A, 97-B, 106, 108, 109, 110 and 115 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987 by which the administration and control of Hindu religious institutions were taken over by the State government or by any authority functioning under it.

The TTD board was constituted by the government and all members, including the chairman, are appointed by it. Interference in the temple administration violates Article 31-A (1)(b) of the Constitution, they noted.

Referring to TTD’s budget of about Rs 2,678 crore for 2016-17, they alleged that the TTD did not have any external audit of its accounts and hundreds of crores of rupees were diverted from the TTD funds under vague headings such as Rs 165 crore for grants and contributions, Rs 160 crore for engineering works, Rs 200 crore for outsourcing expenses and so on. Continuous administration of the TTD by the government for more than 80 years resulted in corrupt practices, they alleged and urged the court to direct the State government to have an external audit.
These audits, under a detailed inquiry committee, may be completed within six months.

AP principal secretary to endowments, TTD executive officer, the ministry of law and justice and convener of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, New Delhi,  were named as respondents.