Hyderabad HC halts Tirupati temple trust’s move to transfer non-Hindu employees
The high court also questioned the constitutional validity of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams’ service rules that prohibit recruitment of non-Hindu employees in the institutions run by it.india Updated: Feb 15, 2018 11:29 IST
The move to transfer its non-Hindu employees by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, which manages the country’s richest temple of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, has run into legal troubles.
The Hyderabad high court on Wednesday stayed the transfer of 44 non-Hindu employees, initiated by the TTD on the ground that they were recruited in violation of the service rules of the institution.
The court also questioned the constitutional validity of the TTD service rules that prohibit recruitment of non-Hindu employees in the institutions run by it.
“When non-Hindus can have the darshan of Lord Venkateshwara, why can’t they work in the TTD-run institutions like hospitals and educational institutions?” questioned a division bench comprising Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice K Vijaya Lakshmi.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by as many as 36 non-Hindu employees of the TTD, challenging the recent show-cause notices issued to them by the trust.
The court will hear the case again on Monday.
The TTD on January 5 issued show-cause notices to 44 non-Hindu employees, seeking an explanation as to why they cannot be “shifted out of the TTD” for not declaring their faith at the time of recruitment.
The presence of these non-Hindus came to the light during an inquiry conducted by a TTD vigilance officer, following a sting operation by a local channel on a senior woman officer going to church regularly in the official vehicle.
Prior to 1988, there was no ban on recruitment of non-Hindus in the TTD. In 1988, the TTD issued an order banning the recruitment of non-Hindus in temple administration, except in the educational institutions run by it. Again in 2007, another government order was issued banning recruitment of non-Hindus even in the educational institutions.
The official inquiry revealed that as many as 35 non-Hindus were recruited between 1988 and 2007 in various cadres. Even after the issuance of the order in 2007, another seven non-Hindus got recruited in TTD against the guidelines.
TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal said, including two appointed before 1988, as many as 44 non-Hindus were working in the TTD- run institutions deviating the guidelines.
“Majority of them were employed under compassionate category while some contract employees from other religious faiths also got regularised. We shall now send them to various other government departments, so that only Hindus work for the Tirumala temple,” Singhal said.