New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the “Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam” to respond to a plea from a follower of Lord Venkateshwara Swamy alleging “an erroneous and irregular procedure” in the execution of the “puja” there.
A bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana heard a devotee’s appeal against the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court refusing to receive the PIL observing that the “procedure of conducting rituals is the exclusive domain of Devasthanam and cannot be a matter of arbitration unless it affects the civil or secular rights of others.
The Supreme Court first expressed its reluctance to welcome the plea by observing: “can we get involved (the rituals) to know when and how the ‘puja’ should be conducted … It is the constitutional court and not a “Kuchehri” (lower court) where you can say anything “.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, then requested a response from the temple leadership council regarding the decision on the ritual performance made by devotee Srivari Daadaa, the petitioner.
“The eminent lawyer appearing on behalf of the Respondent (Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam) prays and is granted one week to obtain instructions regarding the representation dated March 18, 2020, sent by the Applicant in person to the Respondent. List the case after a week, ”the judiciary said in the order.
Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam is an independent trust that manages temples including the famous Lord Venkateshwara Swamy in Andhra Pradesh.
During the brief hearing, CJI also spoke in Telugu with petitioner Srivari Daadaa and asked him to be patient as a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara Swamy and not to threaten officials at the Supreme Court’s registry for an urgent registration of his plea.
Judge Ramana said that with his brother and sister the judges were all devotees of Lord Balaji and wanted the rituals to be in keeping with traditions.
“We are all devotees of Balaji and expect all rituals to be carried out according to traditions,” CJI said.
Daadaa lodged an appeal with the highest court against the January 5 order of the High Court rejecting his PID.
The call said the temple authority had “performed sevas, namely, i) Abhishekam Seva, 2) Thomala Seva, 3) Arjitha Brahmostavam 4) Yekanta Utsavalu (Srivari Varshika Brahmotsavams – 2020) and 5) Maha Laghu Darshan, in a wrong and improper procedure ”.
PIL had prayed for the issuance of instructions to ‘Devasthanam’ to rectify the way the rituals were held.
“We are of the opinion that this public interest dispute is unsustainable for the following reasons: First, the procedure for conducting the rituals is the exclusive domain of Devasthanam and cannot be a matter of judgment unless it does not affect the secular or civil rights of others. “said the High Court.
Second, it cannot be said that the “Devasthanam” fulfills public duties in the conduct of rituals. Such activities falling within an ecclesiastical domain are not susceptible of a written jurisdiction at the request of a foreigner, he said.
“Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the Brief Motion is without merit and is likely to be dismissed. Consequently, the written request is rejected… ”, declared the High Court.