In a significant legal development, a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, led by Chief Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice R. Raghunandan Rao, has issued a stay order on the release of funds by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for sanitation and cleanliness projects in Tirupati Municipal Corporation (TMC). The court has directed the TMC to submit counters within a two-week period.
TTD’s Fund Freeze
The High Court’s decision includes a prohibition on the TTD from disbursing funds, even if tenders for the sanitation projects have been finalized. The matter is scheduled for further hearing after the lapse of the two-week period.
The legal proceedings stem from a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by G. Bhanu Prakash Reddy, a BJP leader and former member of the TTD Trust Board. Reddy challenges the TTD’s annual sanction of ₹100 crores for sanitation works in four zones of the TMC. He argues that such allocations violate Section 111 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act of 1987, along with Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
Y. Balaji, the petitioner’s counsel, emphasized in court that TTD funds should exclusively support temple management and religious activities. He suggested that the TMC utilize its surplus budget for sanitation expenses. The court, probing into the TMC’s expenditure on sanitation, issued an interim order, temporarily halting the proposed fund release.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court’s intervention underscores the legal scrutiny surrounding the utilization of TTD funds. As the legal battle ensues, the TMC has been tasked with presenting counters within the stipulated two-week timeframe. The court’s keen interest in ensuring compliance with legal provisions and constitutional principles sets the stage for a thorough examination of the matter in the weeks to come.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has sent shockwaves through the revered Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. It has intervened in the reallocation of funds from the temple to the Municipal Corporation of Tirupati, overturning the decision to transfer responsibilities. A substantial portion, amounting to Rs. 1,000 crores, originally designated for municipal corporation projects, has been redirected.
Bhanuprakash Reddy’s Intervention
Bhanuprakash Reddy, a prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation and lodged a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The court diligently examined the case on Wednesday, providing an unexpected turn of events.
The redirection of temple funds, specified in Section 111 of the Endowments Act, was contested under the Devadaya Chittham. The court ruled against the diversion, citing a clear violation of the legal framework governing the allocation of funds for religious institutions.
In response to the controversy, the court mandated immediate action against the contractors involved. Emphasizing the need for a transparent tendering process, the court instructed the Municipal Corporation to release tenders promptly, ensuring fair competition among contractors.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has issued directives that within two weeks, both the TTD and the Tirupati Municipal Corporation must file petitions, addressing the legal concerns raised during the hearing. The court has asserted its commitment to a thorough investigation and resolution of the matter within a reasonable timeframe.
As the legal battle unfolds, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, a symbol of divine sanctity, finds itself in the midst of an unexpected controversy. The intervention of the Andhra Pradesh High Court marks a significant chapter, ensuring that the temple’s funds are utilized in accordance with legal provisions. The coming weeks will witness further legal proceedings, shedding light on the intricacies of this unexpected dispute.