Retirements of head priests of Tirumala temple were as per TTD Service rules: TTD EO

Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said as per the government orders, the age of retirement for priests was fixed at 65 years.

Published: 20th May 2018 02:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2018 02:43 PM   |  A+A-

Earlier, TTD head priest AV Ramana Dikshitulu made startling allegations of impropriety, corruption and lack of commitment among TTD administrators in upholding ethos and sanctity of the Tirumala temple. (EPS)

By Express News Service

TIRUPATI: In wake of the reports that retirement of the four chief priests of Tirumala Temple was a disciplinary action, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal clarified that the retirements were as per the service rules of the TTD. 

Speaking to media persons in Tirumala on Sunday, the Executive Officer said as per the GO No 1171 issued on December 16, 1987, and GO No 611 issued on October 16, 2012, the age of retirement for priests was fixed at 65 years.  “Even in the TTD Service rules of 1956 and the government notification issued in that year, it was said every hereditary servant and every assistant and gumasta shall be not less than 25 years and not more than 65 years of age,” he said. 

Singhal said in January 2013, as per the rules, three priests -AS Narasimha Deekshithulu, A Ramachandra Deekshitulu and AV Bhaktsavatsalam - were retired. However, they went to court challenging the age of retirement. “The court passed an interim order to allow that to perform rituals sans any emoluments or sambahanams till the case is disposed of. Later, the TTD board has decided to give them Sambhavnas and subsequently, the writ petitions were withdrawn, which makes the interim order irrelevant,” he explained. 

The EO said that later 10 members of ex mirasi families requested they be given the opportunity to serve as head priests and priests and even approached High Court. “In 2015 High Court issued orders asking them to consider their appeal as per the vacancies. However, since there were no vacancies, they were not given the posts. They again went to court and filed contempt of court against TTD EO and Board Chairman. Hearing in the case is still pending. They too cited the retirement rule and wanted them to be given the post,” he said. 

Singha explained that considering the rules, appeals and court petitions, directions and pending cases, the TTD Board discussed the issue and decided to implement 2012 rules. Accordingly, a senior most eligible member from each of the four hereditary Archaka families was given the postings.  He clarified that it was not in any violation of the rules. 

With regard to doubts being expressed over the safety of temple jewelry, donated by several kings including Krishnadevaraya and several others, he maintained that they are safe. He said two committees --Justice Wadhwa Committee and Justice M Jagannadha Rao committee -- also reported that the temple jewelry as mentioned in Tiruvabharanam Register of 1952 was safe. 

With regard to allegations regarding pink diamond, the Executive Officer citing the report of Justice M Jagannadha Rao Committee, he said that what was broken was not a pink diamond, but a ruby. It fell down during the Garuda Seva of Brahmotsavam when some devotee threw metal coins at the Utsava Murthy (processional deity). The ruby fell down. The Chief Priests AV Ramana Deekshitulu noticed and during the search broken pieces were found and retrieved. 

Showing the photograph of the broken pieces of the ruby,  the executive officer said that those pieces are safe with TTD.  He personally opined that it would be better if the temple ornaments were displayed for public and if not possible as per Agamas, than the 3D image of the same should be displayed in website and museum of TTD.


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