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Table of Contents

1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................2

2 WHAT IS THE DHARMA OF THE SOCIETY? ..............................................................................6

3 HOW THE ANDHRA PRADESH SOCIETY DEVIATED FROM THE PATH OF DHARMA? 7
3.1.1 Injustice to Telangana Temple Archakas and Muthawallis (Trustees) .............................11
Archakas stage protest ..........................................................................................................................23

4 WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YEARS 1996 TO 2004? .............................................................24

5 HOW THE DRACONIAN 30/87ENDOWMENTS ACT GET AMENDED? ................................28

6 SALIENT FEATURES OF ACT 33 OF 2007 ..................................................................................31

7 HOW THE CHILKUR SYSTEM OF WORSHIP WAS PROTECTED THROUGH


G.O.MS.NO. 260? ................................................................................................................................32

8 HOW THE ANDHRA PRADESH ENDOWMENTS DEPARTMENT BLOCKED ACT 33 OF


2007? .....................................................................................................................................................35

9 NEED FOR A CENTRAL UNIFORM COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION ON HINDU


RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS ...........................................................................................................43

10 RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE HON‘BLE COMMITTEE ......................................................47

11 APPENDIX ..........................................................................................................................................51

12 REFERENCES ....................................................................................................................................59

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To Date : 05-03-2010
The Member Secretary of the Committee,
Room No.248,
Vigyan Bhavan Annexe,
Maulana Azad Road,
New Delhi – 110 011
From:
Prof. M.V. Soundararajan
Convenor, Temples Protection Movement
2-2-647/77/D, Srinivasanagar Colony, Hyderabad- 500013.
Respected Sir,
In continuation of my letter dated 22-02-2010, I submit the following
Memorandum, as one of the Stakeholders to give suggestions on the situation in Andhra Pradesh.

1. Introduction
The Temples Protection Movement is an organization with a noble objective of
protecting and enhancing the Spiritual Wealth of our nation which consists of crores of
Temples. The word ―Temple‖ is used in a very broad sense as any place of worship of the
Almighty and it could be a Hindu Temple, a Mosque, Church or a Gurudwara etc. We
believe strongly as our Vedas and Upanishads have stated that the Almighty is ONE
though there are many ways and means to approach him in various forms.
The focus of the movement currently is on protecting Hindu Temples as we believe that
slowly our temples are being destroyed due to excessive Governmental intervention in
their affairs which fortunately is not yet existent in case of places of worship of other
religions. The Hindu Temples have been unfortunately singled out and slowly they have
become an extension of any typical Government department where the nexus between
corrupt politicians and bureaucrats has created havoc. This nexus has now been imported
into the serene atmosphere of our temples leading to their destruction; while low income
temples are being closed down so that their assets can be sold off to feed the corrupt
officials and politicians, the high income ones are becoming excessively commercialized
with the same intention so that the corrupt elements can feed on the income. It is the
objective of this movement to put a stop to this destruction by understanding the root
causes, educating the society and putting in place corrective actions so that our temples
can once again regain their lost glory and once again become centers of spiritual
education ensuring peace and prosperity for all. The Temples Protection Movement has a
strong following in the state of Andhra Pradesh and this organization along with other
likeminded Archaka Organizations has spearheaded the movement to reform the Temple
System in the State of Andha Pradesh with some remarkable success. These aspects will
be covered in more detail in the following sections.
The following are the seven-point Terms of Reference of this Hon‘ble Committee:

(1) To examine the situation in the State of Andhra Pradesh with reference to
the demand for a separate State of Telangana as well as the demand for
maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh.

(2) To review the developments in the State since its formation and their
impact on the progress and development of the different regions of the State.

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(3) To examine the impact of the recent developments in the State on the
different sections of the people such as women, children, students, minorities,
other backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

(4) To identify the key issues that must be addressed while considering the
matters mentioned in items (1), (2) and (3) above.

(5) To consult all sections of the people, especially the political parties, on
the aforesaid matters and elicit their views; to seek from the political parties
and other organisations a range of solutions that would resolve the present
difficult situation and promote the welfare of all sections of the people; to
identify the optimal solutions for this purpose; and to recommend a plan of
action and a road map.

(6) To consult other organisations of civil society such as industry, trade,


trade unions, farmers‘ organisations, women‘s organisations and students‘
organisations on the aforesaid matters and elicit their views with specific
reference to the all round development of the different regions of the State.

(7) To make any other suggestion or recommendation that the Committee


may deem appropriate.

This input document detailing the views of the Temples Protection Movement has been
prepared under the Terms of reference No. 2 & 5 of the Committee. This Organization
comes under the word ―other organizations‖. It will be the focus of this document to
present the views of our Organization within the ambit of the Terms of Reference No. 2
& 5 stated above.
There is an ancient saying in our Upanishads which has been time tested to be an eternal
truth many times before ― (Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshitaha)‖ i.e Dharma will
protect those who protect it leading to their welfare and when the society itself acts to
protect Dharma then it will enjoy peace and prosperity. At the same time if the society
deviates from the path of Dharma then the people will have to face the consequences
through escalating violence, unrest, droughts, floods etc i.e peace and prosperity is
destroyed.

1 What is the Dharma of the Society?

This was answered by Bheeshma when Yudhistira posed the same question
(Mahabharatha Shanti Parva 109-9-11)
“It is most difficult to define Dharma. Dharma has been explained to be that which helps
upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which ensures the welfare of living beings is
surely Dharma. The learned Rishis have declared that which sustains is Dharma”
The following excerpts from the book ―The Agama Encyclopedia‖ by Prof S.K
Ramachandra Rao Vol 3, illustrates, based on quotations from Agama texts (ancient texts
that specify in minute detail all aspects of Temple worship), the responsibility of the

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society towards the welfare of the archaka family; which sacrifices for the sake of the
welfare of the entire society, for whose sake the worship is conducted in the temples.
"Worship in a temple where permanent arrangement is not priority made
for priest to live in comfort is described as demoniacal and the donor
would fail to procure the merits of building a temple. It is important to
recognize that a temple would be of no value without an icon installed in it,
that the icon continues to be powerful only as long as it is properly and
regularly worshipped and that such a worship needs a priest who is happy
and content”. (Pg 115)

“Because the safety, security, wealth and welfare of the


country depends upon regular worship ( six times, three or
two times a day) conducted in the temple, the ruler of the land
or the people must see that the worship is not interrupted due
to the penury of the priest. It is prescribed therefore that
endowments of lands are made upon the priest free of taxes so
that his family may live in comfort”. (Pg 174)

“For the temple which may be said to grow in the community, the root is
the priest and the top of the tree is the ruler (or the administration). It is
wise, therefore that the root is not harmed, lest the top wither away.
Alternatively the ruler (or the administrators) may be likened to the fruit of
the tree, while the priest is the flower; when the flower is attacked, there is
no way that the fruit can appear or flourish”. Pg (175)

It is pertinent to note here that Yoga, Dhyana, Meditation etc which were taught by our
ancient Rishis several thousands of years ago and which have all been proved to be
highly beneficial by the recent advances in medicine all have their origin in the Agamas.
Therefore it is clear that as a society we need to give due respect to the wisdom of the
Agama Rishis as documented in the Agama texts.
Therefore the Dharma of the Society as per the Agamas is to ensure uninterrupted
rituals in our temples and the welfare of the Archakas so that the rituals lead to
welfare of the entire society and peace and prosperity for all.

2 How the Andhra Pradesh Society deviated from the path of Dharma?

The legislature in the year 1987 enacted the 30/87 Act based on the recommendations of
the Justice Challa Kondiah commission. The commission unfortunately started off with a
natural bias that hereditary system was the root cause of the evils of the temple system
then based on the personal experiences with dealing with hereditary functionaries. The
commission did not consider the basic fact that while the rituals in high income temples
could be sustained without the hereditary functionaries so long as the income continues;
the low income temples on the other hand which depend on the sacrifices of the
hereditary functionaries to sustain rituals will be deeply impacted if the system which
was designed by our ancient Rishis were to be abolished. Since the low income temples
form 90% of the temples what was needed was a legislation which could allow regulation
on the few functionaries who were exploiting the system while allowing the genuine and

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committed ones who form the majority to continue to perform their dharma. The
commission blinded by the activities of few of the hereditary functionaries recommended
abolition of the entire system and the legislature went with this recommendation without
due deliberation on the consequences of this decision on the small low income temples
which were being sustained due to the devotion of the families of the hereditary
functionaries which transcended generations independent of the income which was
transitory in nature. The 30/87 Act was enacted and the entire history has been recorded
in the book ―Legislation for Temples Destruction‖ which is recommended to be read. The
following is the excerpt from the Book.
Today, Temples are in Turmoil, in Andhra Pradesh many of the 34000 and above
Temples are decaying and are in different stages of closure. This is because of a single
thoughtless, draconian and devastating legislation :- The Andhra Pradesh Endowments
Act of 1987.
Each and every section of this legislation is a weapon for destruction of Temples.
Readers should know how the legislation could be enacted; what was the basis etc. To
bring light the mischief, the misinformation, the manipulation and misrepresentation of
facts done by Challa Kondiah Commission in laying the foundation for the 1987
Endowments Act, the facts are as under…
In the year 1965, the Andhra Pradesh State Government proposed to amend and
consolidate the laws relating to the Hindu Religious Endowments and Charitable
Institutions. Consequently, a Bill drafted by the legislative section of the Law Department
of the Government of Andhra Pradesh was published in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette
extraordinary on 6.8.1965 and was introduced in the Legislative assembly on the same
day. Sri P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then Minister for Law and Endowments of the State of
Andhra Pradesh moved a motion on 14.8.1965 to refer the said Bill to a Joint Select
Committee of the two houses and the same was adopted on 16.8.1965. The Legislative
Council after full discussion concurred with the said motion on 17.8.1965 and a message
to that effect was announced in the Legislative Assembly on 20.8.1965. Thereafter, a
Select Committee consisting of 21 members from the Andhra Pradesh Legislature
commenced the consideration of the draft bill on 8.9.1965. The Committee held 30
meetings out of which 8 sittings were devoted to recording of oral evidence and receiving
written representations and 22 sittings were devoted to the clause by clause
consideration of the Bill. This author also gave evidence lasting 2.5 Hours which was
published by the Legislative Assembly Secretariat. A thoroughly revised Bill which
emerged from deliberations lasting for almost 10 months was submitted by the Select
Committee to the Legislature on 3.6.1966. Thereafter the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and
Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act was passed by the State Legislature in
1966 and it received the assent of the President and was placed on Statue Book in 1966,
This Act was in force till 1987.
As contrasted with the elaborate procedure of thread bear discussion, the Act of 1987
was passed in unusual haste. The Bill running into 178 cyclostyled pages having 160
sections grouped in 15 chapters and three schedules was introduced in the Legislative
Assembly on 4.4.1987. Eventhough, the Bill contained the provisions with the intention to
make far reaching changes drastically departing from the traditional practices of the
Hindu institutions based on custom and usage, no indepth discussion took place before
passing of the Bill. The House discussed the Bill from 4PM to 9PM on 9 th April, 1987 and

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the Opposition walked out in the end. The Minister replied to the debate from 9PM, and
later the Speaker put sections (2) to (160) to vote in one bunch, because the Opposition
Members who had given notices of amendments to these clauses were not present in the
House to move them and declared that they were adopted by the House. He then put Sec
(1) to vote and declared the Bill passed.
The justification for this unusual procedure was given by the Government was that the
Bill itself was the outcome of deliberations of a Commission headed by Justice Challah
Kondiah. A Writ Petition mentioning the arbitrary manner in which the Commission gave
its findings was filed before the Supreme Court. The Writ Petitions contains serious
allegations against the Commission‟s functioning and the biased nature with which the
recommendations were made. These points were not argued at all before the Supreme
Court and hence the Supreme Court was not aware of the limitations of the Report of
Challah Kondiah Commission.
The Challah Kondiah Commission‟s Report was discussed at a symposium organized by
the Department of Public Administration, Osmania University on 14-12-1986 at which
eminent Professors and Scholars deliberated and came to the conclusion that the Report
of the Commission was based on defective methodology and lacks objectivity and vision.
According to the data provided by the Commission, there are 32,201 temples which are
assessable institutions. An assessable institution means an institution which has got an
assessable income of more than Rs 1,000 per annum. In other words the remaining
24,400 temples have an income of less than Rs. 1,000 per annum. Out of the 7,761
assessable temples, there are only 582 temples which have an assessable income of more
than Rs 10,000 per annum. The primary terms of reference was to find out to what extent
these institutions are effectively administered. For this purpose the Commission should
have conducted a sample survey of all these three classes of the institution. Instead the
Commission devoted its study mostly to the functioning of only the TTD and four specific
temples which have an income of more than 20 lakhs per annum and formulated all its
recommendations on the basis of study of only these five temples.
The Commission made a lengthy narration of what happened at the State Government
level from 1972 onwards on the issue of abolition of hereditary archakatvam. The
Commission has quoted the then Chief Minister in 1979 and said that he was for
abolition of the system. But what the Chief Minister actually noted in the file, viz “what
about the alternative?” has not been answered by the Commission. This is a pertinent
question which the Commission should have answered while recommending abolition of
an age-old system. The abolition of the existing system without providing for a proper
and viable alternative has resulted in the existing chaotic situation. In the Supreme Court
the entire arguments from both sides were concentrated on the issues relating to Tirupati
Devastanams alone.

To sum up on the Historical Background of the enactment of this legislation of 1987, it is


relevant to quote from ―Between You and Me‖ in The Hindu Dt 20-4-1987. The same is
also reproduced in the book ―Legislation for Temple Destruction‖ in Pg 3.

The Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Bill
was passed by the A.P. Assembly on April 9 to a chorus of protests followed by a walk-
out by the Opposition. The Government refused to refer it to a Select Committee as ,

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perhaps Hindu Temples demanded more immediate attention than our water and power
problems. There was a tremendous sense of urgency about the whole thing.
The printed version of the Bill was given to the members of these Assembly on April 8,
day before it was passed. Of course on April 4, it was given in cyclostyled form. The Bill
has 160 sections grouped under 15 chapters with three schedules.
I suppose there was no need for elaborate discussions as the Challah Kondiah
Commission had consulted eminent people like Sri Akbar Ali Khan, former Governor of
U.P and Orissa, Swami Ranganathananda and a host of others on how Hindu temples be
run. I don‟t know, whether the Government would ask a Hindu how to run a mosque.
Swami Ranganathananda is the President of the Ramakrishna Mission in Hyderabad.
The Ramakrishna Mission is no longer Hindu institution as it declared itself a minority
institution a couple of years ago. The Jeers of Ahobila Math, Parakala Math and Sri
Andavan Swami were not consulted. Also the Acharyas of Kanchi and Sringeri who were
consulted have said that they did not say what has been stated in the report of the
Commission. There has been no response from the Government to their denial. By
passing the Bill, the feelings of our Jeers and Acharyas have been trampled on. Perhaps,
in a secular State, Hindus must consult minorities on how Hindus should behave towards
the minorities and among themselves.
When the Challah Kondiah Commission was formed in May 1984, it had six members,
For reasons not known, the number was reduced to three by April 1985. Sri Trivikrama
Ramananda Bharati Swamy, Head of the Courtallam Peetam, who was in the first
committee, has said that one of the members of the Commission tried to influence the
others at the very first meeting of the Commission. Perhaps this Commission set out with
a conclusion and interviewed those who would agree with it.
The money that is spent by the Endowments Department is the money given to temples by
the public. It is the offering of believers who have faith in their Acharyas and Jeers. They
look to them for guidance in spiritual and religious matters. But how the money of the
devotees should be spent is decided by a secular Government which loves to interfere in
the affairs of Hindu Religious institutions.
It is said that politicians rush in where angels fear to tread. According to the new Act, the
Advisory Council of the State Administration of Hindu Temples will consist of (a)
Minister of Endowments (b) Commissioner, Endowments Board (c) an Agama
pandit/philanthropist (d) a legal expert (e) a Chartered Accountant. It is not obligatory to
have an Agama Pandit. A philanthropist would do. In other words, in principle, you need
not have any religious head on the Council. The British issued a G.O on August 10, 1934,
regarding the Advisory Council for the Administration of Religious Affairs. “shall consist
of the Jeer, one representative of the archakas, two representatives of Acharya Purushas
and one representative of the other mirasidars of the Devasthanams”. What a contrast!
The British had greater concern for our institutions unmindful of the consequences. In
December last, I met Sriman Chinna Narayana Jeer of Tridandi and was with him for
about two hours. I went to see him along with Prof. M.V. Soundararajan of Hyderabad,
who has done a lot to publicize the salient (bad) features of the Bill. He is very concerned
about it. I am sure he thinks of it during day and dreams of it by night.
When we met the Jeer, it was about 9 PM. Even at 11 in the night, visitors called on him
for guidance and consultation. He is held in great esteem by the public. He spoke to me
about the Kondiah Commission report and how deeply distressed he was at the Report.

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He wondered why the Government was doing what it was. Like him, other Archaryas and
Jeers disapproved of the Report. It is sad that the views of these good, selfless, God-
centred men have been ignored and sometimes ridiculed by the Government. Those who
demand respect should not ridicule those who command respect.
The Government says that the Bill is for our good. When we have friends like that, we
don‟t need enemies like Ghazni Mohammed.

3.1.1 Injustice to Telangana Temple Archakas and Muthawallis (Trustees)

Hyderabad Endowments Regulations of 1349 Fasli (1940) Was the Statue for erstwhile
Hyderabad State consisting of Telengana, Karnataka and Maratwada Regions. Chapter
IV of these regulations enumerates that the buildings of Mosques, Temples, Churches,
Idgahs, Tombs Dargahs, Kankhas, Ranikhanas, Samakhanas, Ashurkhanas, Challahs,
Challaha, Mathas, Gurudwaras, Grave yards, Cemetries, Samadhis, tower of silence, etc.
are religious buildings and should be entered in the book of Endowments. Thus it was a
secular Legislation applicable to all the communities like Hindus, Muslims, Christians,
and Sikhs etc. Under these regulations No trustee shall have the right, if it is not specified
in the Endowment Deed, to nominate a successor. He shall obtain sanction of the
Government regarding appointment of successor. Under Rule 73 of the Hyderabad
Endowment Regulations, an application for appointment of a successor to the Math shall
be submitted to the Tahsildar of the Taluk where the Math is situated and the Tahsildar
shall conduct an enquiry, after due notification, in accordance with schedules 8 and 9 of
the Regulation, and submit a Report to the Government through the Deputy
Commissioner. The Government shall pass such orders as deemed fit regarding
appointment of successor to Math. Even now in the Karnataka area of the Karnataka
State consisting of Raichur, Bedar and Gulbarga districts the erstwhile Hyderabad state
Endowment Regulations are in force. They have not enacted an integrated Legislation
with result there are five Regulations in that State to administer the Religious institutions.
This is the legacy of the State reorganization Act of 1956. Let us see what the CP
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission says on this Legislation:
―.....In the former State of Hyderabad a large extent of which is now merged with the
Andhra Pradesh State all religious endowments (whether Hindu, Muslim or otherwise)
came under the control of a body which without interfering with the internal religious
affairs of any institution provides for the proper management and utilisation of the funds
of temples, mutts, wakfs, etc., These institutions are not managed directly by Government
but it has appointed committees of each particular sect and religion to manage them. A
regular procedure has been laid down in the Rules. The institutions are not merely
compulsorily registered but a notification is issued in the Gazette, giving two months
time within which complaints, if any, against their registration can be made. Objection
petitions, if any, are heard in the Tehsil where the institution is situate. Rai Trimbak Lal,
Director of Endowments, Hyderabad, in his evidence before the Commission has asserted
that the working of the Hyderabad Regulations and Rules has been very satisfactory and
successful in practice. The former Minister in charge of endowments (Shri
Chandramauli) in his evidence before the Commission not only supported this view but
added that a Consolidated Bill in which all the good features of the Andhra legislation

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and the Hyderabad Regulations (which are applicable to all communities) are taken into
account would be brought before the legislature shortly.... (P. 28)‖
―....Thus, the purpose of the legislation is not to affect or modify the observances, rituals
and ceremonious associated with worship but only to ensure the proper management and
utilisation of the funds of the religious institutions in accordance with the avowed and
legitimately inferable purposes of the endowments. (P. 29)‖
When Telangana was merged with Andhra area the State of Andhra Pradesh was formed
it was included in the understanding of Telangana safe guards that the existing
Endowments structure which prevailed at that time will not be disturbed. It continued to
be so, till 1966 and in that year an integrated Legislation was enacted. I gave evidence
before the Joint Select Committee requesting the Legislature not to disturb the Telangana
setup as far as the temple administration is concerned. Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao who was
the Chairman of the Select Committee assured us that the system prevailing in Telangana
region will not be disturbed. Accordingly, the 1966 Legislation incorporated all the
salient features of the Hyderabad Endowments Regulations. Suddenly in the year 1987
the whole system was disturbed and the Draconian Legislation based on Challa Kondaiah
Report was enacted which destroyed the entire temple system in the State of Andhra
Pradesh. With the result not only the Telengana area temples but also the temples located
in Andhra and Rayalaseema areas have been disturbed. From that time onwards the entire
Archaka Community and the devotees of the whole State have been agitating against this
Legislation.
The following item will show the injustices done to the temples situated in Telangana
area and the whole issue was submitted to the Supreme Court in the form of a written
argument based on that the Supreme Court revised its decision in 1997 and gave certain
directions which were not implemented. Thereby immense damage was caused to the
temple system in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

2.1.1.1 Sulse – Sulsan Rules

The customs, usage and traditions of Religious and Charitable Institutions situated in the
nine districts (presently ten districts) of the Telangana region of the State of Andhra
Pradesh are unique and altogether different by virtue of its geographical segregation and
also by its placement historically, politically, administratively and socially. The
Telangana region having been ruled for a considerable period by the Nizams and also by
its proximity to the cults of Northern and Western parts of the country, the religious as
well as secular background of the temples will have to be understood and appreciated in
the context of particular customs and usages of these religious and charitable institutions.
There are temples where the vallabh and Ramanuja sampradayas are adopted and
combined into one and the Chilkur temple is one such institution. Some of the institutions
have the combination of composite culture like Rajasthani and Gujarathi systems of
worship apart from following the tenets of agamas.
The Administration of the Temples in almost all the districts of Telengana is vested in an
office called Muthavalli which is a unique combination of both religious and secular
functions blended together in an inseparable way irrespective of caste, religions, etc. The
landed properties such as Inams were granted mainly to the muthavallis and their
descendant families hereditarily either burdened with service or annexed to their office in

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personal spirit, enthusiasm and interest to serve the public through these religious
institutions, the Muthavallis safeguarded the properties of their religious institutions.
The Hyderabad Endowments Regulations 1349F (1940 AD) was the Legislation for the
administration of all these institutions. This legislation was so unique that it was
applicable to all religions including that of Charitable Institutions. There was never undue
interference either in the religious matters or in the administration of Religious
Institutions. The Administration went on smoothly and the rights of the Muthavallies
were never interfered with.
With a view to secure uniformity in law applicable to the whole state of Andhra Pradesh
in respect of all Charitable and Hindu religious institutions and Endowments called
Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act of
1966 was enacted and it came into force w.e.f. 26.1.1967. Till that date the Hyderabad
Endowments Regulations was in operation as far as institutions situated in Telangana
were concerned, after that date, even the Act XVII of 1966, the system of Muthavalliship
continued and the Muthavalli‘s rights to office of the Chairman of the Trust Board was
protected.
Under Firman issued by Nizam in 1333 Fasli several institutions were getting grants and
inams. These cash grants were regulated by statutory rules known as Sulse-Sulsan rules.
The Firman and the Rules are the law as they were promulgated by the Nizam who was a
statutory authority and Sovereign for the erstwhile Hyderabad State. But these Sulse-
Sulsan Rules were sought to be taken away by section 144 of the 1987 Act.
With effect on and from the commencement of this Act Section 144 in turn took away the
right of the muthavalli of the institution to have the cash grants and income from the inam
lands as per the Firman and Sulse-Sulsan rules. It is an expropriator Legislation and
should be interpreted strictly in favour of the persons whose rights are sought to be taken
away. The section has no application to the cash grants and inams granted by the former
ruler of Hyderabad. The object of any Legislation should be to promote the objective of
the founder and not to defeat them. The 1987 Act defeats the directions given by the
founder. The rights enjoyed by the trustees prior to the impugned Act were abrogated.
These rights were created under specific objects of the Trust and recognized by the
Hyderabad Endowments Regulations of 1349F. The Muslims and other religious persons
were enjoying the benefits from the said regulations along with the Hindus. Even now,
the muslims are continuing to enjoy the same benefits whereas the Hindus alone are
deprived because of the 1987 Legislation.
The people of Telangana who are God fearing and who are more wedded to the
traditional systems and have sacrificed immensely to protect their temples could not
witness this wanton destruction. Even when they could protect their temples during
Mogul period they could not do so in this period which was a great shock to them and
effected them sentimentally. Even during Qutub Shahi period there was a cordial
relationship between the State and the Temples the example of Bhadrachalam has to be
noted and when Ahobilam was ransacked during the Ibrahim Ali Qutub Shah period the
Tanisha was not happy with the development. When Hampi was destroyed after the
Tallikota war the Court officials at the Golkonda fort were not happy and when the policy
of the state was to promote Hindu temples and its maintenance etc it became an eyesore
of the fanatic Mullahs who mis-guided Aurangazeb which resulted in the siege of
Golkonda Fort for six months. The ultimatum delivered by Aurangazeb contains this item

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of pro Hindu temple attitude of Tanisha. These points have to be noted when we
mentioned about the Sulse-sulsan rules and the cash grant (yomia) which was dis-
continued after 1987.
It may be recalled that since Bhadrachalam was in East Godavari District, Rajaji wanted
the Temple at Bhadrachalam should be handed over to the Madras State for
Administration. Even-though Bhadrachalam was in composite Madras State, the temple
was administered by the Hyderabad Government. The people of Telangana did not agree
to this arrangement because they were sentimentally attached to Bhadrachalam temple
since the Tanisha period. With the result the temple continued to be administered under
the Hyderabad Endowments Regulations till 1966 and even after that it continued upto
1987. The Bhadrachalam temple was also a victim of the 30/87 Legislation.
The people of Telangana are sentimentally affected and unless this historical blunder is
corrected the people of Telangana will not be happy. In fact this is a major deviation to
the understanding arrived at in 1956 when Telangana was merged with Andhra. They
wanted that there system of maintaining the temples and their management should not
disturbed. This was agreed upon and when an integrated Legislation was enacted in 1966
it was insisted that the good part of the Hyderabad Regulations shall not be disturbed. It
was implemented accordingly. Unfortunately, after 20 years without giving any regard to
their sentiments the whole system was abolished and they became mute spectators.
Because there was a stay order which was in force till 1996 the matter did not go to the
mosses. The Supreme Court on the basis of the written argument submitted by the
Telangana Archaka Samakhya reviewed its own decision of 1996. But it was not
implemented. It has hurt the sentiments of the Telangana people and the Telangana
Rastra Samithi asking for a separate State was born. Therefore there is a need to
understand this root cause so as to rectify the historical blunder.
The 30/87 Act abolished the hereditary system which sustained the temples for
generations through Sec 16 (abolition of hereditary trusteeship), Sec 34 (abolition of
hereditary archakatvam and other hereditary functions), Sec 144 (abolition of
emoluments). The Supreme Court which dealt with the constitutionality of these sections
in the Pannalal judgement (AIR 1996 SC 1023) and Narayana judgement (AIR 1996 SC
1765) had occasion to introspect on the disastrous consequences that this Act would have
on small low income temples and the welfare of the archakas performing duties in these
temples and it partially reviewed its judgements in AIR 1997 SC 3702. The Supreme
Court suggested ways to mitigate the impact of this legislation on small temple archakas
and trustees in the 1997 judgement without relooking at the conclusions of its 1996
judgements which is now a matter before the review bench of the Supreme Court. The
Supreme Court in retrospect could have struck down the legislation as unconstitutional
for low income temples using the same ratio as in State of Kerala & othrs vs People
Union for Civil liberties in CA 104/2001 which would have allowed these temples to be
governed as per the repealed 1966 Act. Instead the court suggested ways to make the Act
work and thus taking on legislative functions which is now a matter before a constitution
bench as the question whether the Supreme Court can legislate has been referred to the
Constitution Bench on Nov 11 th 2009 by a two judge bench of the court. The entire
Archaka case history will be submitted for the consideration of the Constitution bench of
the Court on the pitfalls of the court taking on legislative function instead of restricting
itself to merely check the constitutional validity of the legislation. It is recommended that

14
the document “Postmortem of the failed Andhra Pradesh Experiment in Temple Reform”
be read to get a complete view of the above matter.
In A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu vs State of Andhra Pradesh [1996] 6 SCC 548 written
submissions were filed by me on behalf of the Telangana Archaka Samakhya in which it
was pointed out that the operation of the impugned Act would result in deprival of the
livelihood of the Archakas of 24,440 temples and the abolition of their hereditary rights
and introduction of graded scales of pay were so burdensome that they would inevitably
result in manifest violation of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 25, 26 and 27 of
the Constitution. In A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu‘s case the Hon‘ble Supreme Court
specifically took note of these facts mentioned in the written submissions and had inter-
alia observed as under.
“This information has been furnished in the written arguments
submitted by Shri Markandeya but we did not have the
occasion to have them verified during the course of
hearing…” (AIR 1996 SC 1765 Para 132)
The Court also directed the State Govt. to constitute two committees, one to go into the
question of rationalization of Pay Scales of all Archakas and Modality of payment of
salary to them and the Second Committee was to enquire into and recommend the welfare
measures for the Archakas.
The Committee later considered all my allegations and found that it is not 24,440 temples
but it will be 33,269 temples which would literally be closed if the provisions of the Act
were implemented and observed as under:
“The Committee has gone into these aspects in the light of the
directions issued and has recommended that the temples
whose annual income is less than Rs 5 Lakhs may be allowed
to be managed by the respective management of the temples
etc but be supervised by the department as is now been done
so that the Managements of such temples may be allowed to
pay such remuneration to the Archaka. In lieu of salary the
Properties given to them may be retained with Archakas for
enjoyment subject to rendering service depending upon the
income of the temple as per the prevailing circumstances”.
This recommendation was because the Committee came to a conclusion that for 33,269
temples out of 33,475 temples i.e over 99% of temples whose income was below Rs 5
Lakhs, the Govt was not in a position to implement pay scales for Archakas. The report
of the Pay Scales committee and along with the recommendations of the Govt were
placed before the Hon‘ble Supreme Court. The Government made the following
submission in its affidavit to the Hon‘ble Supreme Court.
“Temples with such abnormally low incomes may be left to
fend for themselves”.
The Hon‘ble Supreme Court took cognizance of the data given by the Pay-Scales
committee, and also with the formulations of the Government on those recommendations,
backing off from its earlier commitment to ensure rituals in all temples and paying
salaries to all Archakas. The Supreme Court had no alternative but to review its earlier
1996 judgement as the basic premise of the judgement: state taking responsibility for
rituals in all temples and paying salaries to Archakas was no longer valid. Therefore, the

15
Supreme Court reviewed its own judgement of 1996 In A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu etc.,
Vs State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1997 SC 3702 and gave the following recommendations
1. Temples with income < 5 lacs should be allowed to be managed as before and the
Govt should not take over the administration so that the current system of payments
and emoluments will continue as before. To give effect to this the court asked the
Govt to exempt these temples from the purview of the Act using powers under Sec
154. Thus it is clear that the court accepted that the hereditary system would continue
as before in these temples. These temples should be left to fend for themselves.
2. In Temples with income < 5 lacs which were already under the active management of
the Govt the Supreme Court gave recommendations on exempting these from
provisions of Sec 144 wherever the payscales could not be fixed and also asked the
Govt to consider suitable amendments to Sec 144 and also to reduce staff in such
temples. The court also indicated that wherever possible even the temples which are
under the active management of the Govt if it is possible to exempt to do so under
Sec 154. So that they can also be left to fend for themselves.
The following are the actual observations of the Supreme Court in the 1997 judgement
“in paragraph 132 of the judgement, this Court mentioned
about total number of temples and of temples which are
assessable institutions and the income being derived by them.
It observed that the said information was furnished for the
first time in the written arguments after the arguments had
concluded and judgement was reserved” (Para 24)
“The Committee has gone into this aspect, in the light of the
directions issued and has recommended that the temples
whose annual income is less than Rs.5.00 lakhs may be
allowed to be managed by the respective management of the
temples etc. but be supervised by the Department as is being
now done so that the management of such temples may be
allowed to pay such remuneration to the archakas. In lieu of
salary, the properties given to them may be retained with the
Archakas for enjoyment subject to rendering service
depending upon the income of the respective temples as per
the prevailing circumstances. We are informed that a sizeable
part of the temples would come within that category and,
therefore, the Government has accepted the classification with
the rider: “Temple with such abnormally low income may be
left to fend for themselves”. The recommendation of the
Committee has thus been accepted by the Government. Under
Section 154 of the Act, the Government by a notification may
exempt from the purview of any of the provisions of the Act or
any of the rules made thereunder (a) any charitable
institutions of endowments administration of which was or is
for the time being vested in the Government either directly or
through the Committee or a Treasurer endowment appointed
for the purpose or the Official Trustees or the Administrator
General etc. Any institution or endowment is exempted and

16
may likewise vary or cancel such exemption. In view of the
above provision, it would be open to the State Government to
issue a notification published in the official Gazette exempting
such institutions subject to the above recommendation and
such orders as may be mentioned therein or deemed
appropriate” (Para 26).
“As seen, constitutionality of S. 144 has already been upheld
but as mentioned in the judgement, in respect of certain class
of temples, the necessary material was placed before this
Court in the written submissions after the conclusion of the
arguments and not during the course of the arguments‖(Para
29).
“Therefore, permission is granted to the Government to bring
about a suitable amendment to Section 144, though its
constitutionality has already been upheld by this Court” (Para
34).
The Supreme Court also subsequently explained the ratio of the Pannalal judgement in
Ashok Kumar vs State of UP [1997] 5 SCC 201 judgement forming the basis for
amendment to Sec 17 of the Act :-
“In Pannalal Bansilal Pitti v. State of Andhra Pradesh
[(1996) 2 SCC 498], this Court, instead of declaring that
abolition of hereditary trusteeship of the founder of the
temple to manage a temple was unconstitutional, declared
the law reading it down that the institutions would be
managed by a Committee of the non-hereditary and hereditary
trustees presided over by the hereditary trustees so as to be
conducive to proper and efficient management of the
endowment or institutions. At the same time, this Court
upheld the power to remove hereditary trustees who
mismanaged the endowment or committee for acts of
misfeasance or malfeasance, as valid”
The Andhra Pradesh High Court in AP Cooperative Societies vs The State of AP in WA
464 of 2001 made the following observation
“A recent decision of the Supreme Court at this stage may be
noticed. Consequent upon the directions given by Supreme
Court in A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu vs State of AP a scheme
for welfare of archakas and servants of temple was
formulated. The scheme postulated that temples with annual
income less than 5 lakhs should be left to fend for themselves.
In lieu of salary the properties given to them may be retained
by the archakas for enjoyment subject to rendering service
depending upon the income of the respective temples as per
prevailing circumstances…”
Unfortunately the Andhra Pradesh Endowments Department which took very hasty
decisions took a very hostile attitude towards Archakas and did nothing to implement the
above directions of the Supreme Court with the result many temples closed down as we

17
had warned the Hon‘ble Supreme Court and many Archaka families became
impoverished. It is also extremely unfortunate that our Writ Petitions WP 290/1998 and
24/1998 where we pointed out to the Hon‘ble Supreme Court about the non-
implementation of the above directions never came up for serious hearing and they are
still stuck pending in the court along with lakhs of pending cases while thousands of
Archakas were suffering.
In a nut shell :
a. The Govt did nothing for 5Yrs till 26 th June 2002!
b. After agitation by the Archakas the exemption limit for temples was raised
from 5,000 to 50,000 nowhere near the 5 lac limit mentioned by the
Committee and approved by the Supreme Court.
c. The Govt finally issued a gazette notification only on 16.5.2005
exempting all 6C temples from the purview of Sec 144 Only up to Rs
50,000. Even then they did not exempt them from Sec 34. This meant that
the Govt washed its hands of the future of these temples as without the
hereditary system there was no future.
d. Finally in Dec 2008 the new 33/2007 Act exempted the small low income
temples up to Rs 5 Lacs from Sec 144 while amending Sec 34. Thus
correcting a grave historical blunder.

In the meantime many Archakas were driven to suicides and some even committed
the act.

If the directions of the Hon‘ble Supreme Court were followed both in letter and spirit
there was no reason why the archaka families should have become impoverished and
temples virtually closing down as mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of
Act 33 of 2007 reproduced as follows :-
―Over the last two decades, there has been a substantial increase in
pilgrim flow in certain temples while many of the old village temples have
been languishing without any traditional rituals being performed. There
have been numerous representations from the Archakas that a strict
adherence to the provisions of the Act have created difficult conditions for
Archakas to continue in the profession. On the one hand, the Act had
abolished the Hereditary rights and simultaneously abolished share in
Hundies and other offerings given by devotees to the temple. The
assumption that Archakas would be able to get salaries and lead a decent
life has not been borne out by experience over the last two decades. As a
result, neither the Government is in a position to pay salaries nor has it
been able to allow the Archakas to manage temples and have shares in
Hundi, plate or any other Rusum in Archana or Seva ticket or any offering
made by devotees. They were also not able to continue enjoyment of the
lands allotted or allowed to be in their possession. As a result, many
traditional Archaka families have become impoverished and the temples
have virtually shut down. In addition, there have been complaints that
traditional temple rituals are not being performed strictly as per the
particular sastra governing the temple and the sanctity of the religious
rituals as per the custom and usage is not being preserved. The Supreme
Court had appreciated the need to preserve the customs and usage with a

18
view to protect the sanctity of religious rituals in I.A.No. 7 in W.P.(C) No.
638 of 1987 and I.A. No. 3 in transfer case No. 170 of 1987.

The committee further recommends that as and when the present


incumbent in the religious staff retires or demits office or otherwise, the
person in their family should be considered on priority basis for filling of
that post or allowing him to do the service to preserve the custom and
usage taking into consideration suitably in rendering services apart from
the qualification required. The Government has accepted the
recommendations subject to all other things being equal in competitive
requirement. However the main concern should be to preserve the customs
and usage with a view to protect the sanctity of the religious rituals. The
Government itself has been taking care to preserve the sanctity of the
religious rituals. Nothing more needs to be said in this behalf. It is
accordingly approved.

In order to remedy the situation the Government intends to


amend the Act in order to revive the village temple system,
preserve the sanctity of traditional rituals, customs and usage
and provide livelihood to the Archaka families, Amendments
to Sections 34 and 144 are intended to achieve these
objectives. All political parties had unanimously accepted
such amendments in a meeting held on 4-10-2004 ―
The Hon‘ble Supreme Court also gave the following directions with a view to ensure
welfare of the Archakas in the 1996 judgement :-
To effectuate the scheme, tentatively a Consolidated Fund of
Rs 75 Crores would be set up as corpus and procedure would
be evolved by the Government as to, in which nationalized
banks or income yielding Govt Securities the same would be
deposited; as to who would operate and disburse the income
accrued from the fund from time to time, subject to further
revisions, if any, the above consolidated fund, the TTD is
directed to deposit a sum of Rs 20 Crores into the fund during
financial year 1996-1997 by end of June 1996. Each financial
year a sum of Rs 10 crores be deposited till the Corpus fund of
Rs 75 Crores is reached. The Government is also directed to
call upon other major temples like Narasimha Swamy temple,
Yadgirigutta, Shri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple Karimnagar,
Ugranarasimha swamy temple, Visakapatnam, Satyanarayana
swamy temple Annavaram and Kanakadurgamba temple,
Vijaywada etc. with annual income of Rs 20 lakhs or more, to
contribute to the said fund of Rs 75 crores. These temples may
deposit the amount in annual instalments spread over a year
not exceeding five years. During the financial year 1996-1997
a sum of Rs 5 Crores by each of the major temples may be
directed to be deposited and in subsequent four years a sum of
Rs One crore every year may be directed to be deposited
(Para 140)

19
After a lot of agitation, by the Archakas, the present status is as follows. It is from the
submission of the Endowments Department before the Hon‘ble Supreme Court through a
signed affidavit in the year 2008 in the pending Review Petitions :-
It is submitted that AP Endowments Archakas and other
Employees Welfare Fund Trust was constituted and registered
in 1997 as per the commitment given before this Hon‟ble
Court and so far an amount of Rs 69.35 crores was
accumulated in it (including interest of Rs 22.97 crores). So
far an amount of Rs 2.84 crores were released by the trust and
there by 1298 Archakas and other office holders were
benefitted. To fill the fund with Rs 75 Crores the Government
is taking steps to collect the remaining balance from TTD. A
post of Additional Commissioner to look after the affairs of
Archakas and other employees with specific stress on
implementing welfare measures was created at
Commissionerate. To give statutory effect to the above fund
Section 161 was incorporated to Act 30/1987 vide Amendment
Act No. 33 of 2007
The Telangana Archaka Samakhya filed an additional affidavit in the pending Writ
Petition WP 290/1998 on Dec 3 rd 2008 bringing to the notice of the Supreme Court the
amendment to Act 30/87 through Act 33 of 2007 and asking for a review of the 1996
judgement; based on the legislative experience gained from the developments in Andhra
Pradesh post 30/87 Act, in line with the approach for judicial review recommended by
the Hon‘ble Court in the same 1996 judgement.
“Life is not a logic but experience. History and customs,
utility and the accepted standards of right conduct are the
forms, which singly or in combination shall be the progress of
law. Which of these forces shall dominate in any case depends
largely on the comparative importance of value of the social
interest that will be, thereby, impaired. There shall be
symmetrical development with history or custom when history
or custom has been the motive force or the chief one in giving
shape to the existing rules and with logic or philosophy when
motive power has been theirs. One must get the knowledge just
as the legislature gets it from experience and study and
reflection in proof from life itself. All secular activities which
may be associated with religion but which do not relate or
constitute an essential part of it may be amenable to State
regulation but what constitutes the essential part of religion
may be ascertained primarily from the doctrines of that
religion itself according to its tenets, historical background
and change in evolved process..” (Para 93)
The 1996 Supreme Court judgement also specified the process by quoting Swami
Vivekananda, by which it can be ascertained as to what constitutes an ―essential‖ part of
religion.

20
“Is religion to justify itself by the discoveries of reason,
through which every other science justified itself? Are the
same methods of investigation, which we apply to science and
knowledge outside, to be applied to science of religion? In my
opinion this must be so, and I am also of the opinion that the
sooner it is done the better. If a religion is destroyed by such
investigation, it was then all the time unless, unworthy
superstition; and the sooner it goes the better. I am thoroughly
convinced that its destruction would be the best thing that
could happen. All that is dross will be taken off, no doubt, but
the essential parts of religion will emerge triumphant out of
this investigation. Not only will it be made scientific-as
scientific, at least, as any of the conclusions of physics or
chemistry-but will have greater strength, because physics or
chemistry has not internal mandate to vouch for its truth,
which religions has.” (Para 40)
The additional affidavit of Telangana Archaka Samakhya brought to the notice of the
Supreme Court the serious damage that was done to the Temple system by the 30/87
legislation, and the fact that the data based on the failed 30/87 experiment on Temple
reform shows that hereditary archakatvam is an essential and integral part of religion.
This event was widely covered Nationwide in The Hindu Dt 4.12.2008

―Declare hereditary archakatvam integral part of religion‖

J.Venkatesan

No retrenchment of religious office-holders: State

Samakhya urges apex court to review its judgement

New Delhi: The Telangana Archaka Samakhya has urged the Supreme Court to declare
archakatvam (service in temple) an integral part of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of
the Constitution (right to freedom of religion).

Though this review petition and connected pleas were listed for hearing before a three-
judge Bench on Wednesday, it could not be taken up as there was no sitting of a three-
judge Bench. Consequently the matter stood adjourned.

―Death blow to customs‖

According to the petitioner M.V. Soundara Rajan, president of the Samakhya, the apex
court, while upholding the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions
and Endowments Act of 1987, dealt a death blow to customs, service and sampradayams

21
of the temple saying ―hereditary archakatvam is not an essential and integral part of
religion.‖

Subsequently the State government amended the provisions. ―But amending legislation is
a political decision and another political decision by any succeeding government may
reverse the same and put the clock back.‖

The freedom to practice religion was at stake due to the closure of a number of temples,
the petitioner said.

―The continuance of hereditary archaka system itself has been left to the discretion of
competent authority to continue the right to archakatvam without any right to
emoluments such families used to receive earlier.

It is therefore imperative that the apex court reviews its judgement and pronounce that
hereditary archakatvam is an essential and integral part of religion and protected under
Articles 25 and 26.‖

Priority in appointments

The Andhra Pradesh government submitted that no retrenchment of religious office-


holders had taken place after the commencement of the 1987 Act.

―Though a provision exists to transfer religious employees from one institution to another
belonging to the same sampradaya, agama, it was sparingly used.

Priority was given in appointments in religious offices to all those qualified members of
the erstwhile hereditary archaka families as per the commitment given to the apex court.‖

Explaining the series of steps taken, including the amendments made to the legislation,
the reply said that ―thus no threat of retrenchment at any point of time to any of the
religious servant was created by the department as alleged by the petitioners.‖

It sought disposal of the review petitions.

The following extract from the Book ―Legislation for Temples Destruction‖ Pg 67 sums
up the reason for the decay of Temples
If the Scheme as suggested by the Supreme Court had been implemented in letter and
spirit, there was hope of survival for these institutions. We may however add that it is not
for the State Government alone to be concerned with the preservation of these temples.
But the Society as a whole led by Matadhipathies and other religious leaders of the
Hindu Society should have strived for the proper implementation of the scheme. The
Political Executive also should not have left the interpretation of the judgements
completely to the Bureaucracy. They should have taken the initiative and properly guided
administration in such implementation keeping in mind the religious sentiments of the
people.

22
It is the considered opinion of the author that, unfortunately the Challah Kondiah
Commission‟s Report lacked vision and practical consideration of the problems involved
and the Supreme Court tried to rectify the damage. Sadly the Government failed to
implement even those positive directives of the Supreme Court which resulted in the
decay of thousands of temples.
It is very clear from the above facts that the Andhra Pradesh Society did not uphold
the Dharma which the Agama Rishis expected us to do and we are all guilty of
leaving poor defenceless Archakas to literally fend for themselves and have been a
cause either directly or indirectly for their impoverishment due to the mistakes and
inaction of the past which lead many impoverished archakas to contemplate suicide
many temples to closure and for the first time in the history of our temple system
Shri Bheemasena Chary archaka of Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple Alampur gave
up his life hanging from the bell of the temple as a supreme sacrifice and sounding a
symbolic message to bring to the notice of the society the evils of the 30/87 Act. The
period between 1996 and 2004 when maximum damage was done to the temple
system in our state also coincided with the worst drought seen by our State ever.
The Andhra Pradesh Archakas protested against the attitude of the Endowments
Department which lead Sri Bheemasena Chary to commit suicide. This was reported in
The Hindu Dt 12.11.2001

Archakas stage protest

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, NOV. 12. Priests and head priests of temples in the State took out an impressive and large
procession here on Monday to the office of the Endowments Commissioner with a charter of 11
demands.The major ones relate to retention of retirement age at 65 years, a relook into the Endowments
Act of 1987 which, according to them, has been the root cause of all ills plaguing the temple system, and
end to ``Government interference,'' sale of Endowment lands and commercialisation of temples.

The rally was organised under the aegis of different representative organisations such as Andhra Pradesh
Archaka Samakhya, Dharma Parirakshana Samiti, Archaka Seva Samiti, Adi Saiva Youth Society and Sri
Vaikhasana Archaka Mandali. The rally was unique in every aspect in that it was devoid of slogan-
shouting, traffic jams, inflammatory speeches by leaders or any inclinations to incidents or violence. In
fact, Mr R. Papa Rao, MLA belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, was asked to desist when he
wanted to make a speech extending his party's ``full support'' to the archakas. The protesters carried
placards and banners highlighting their demands.

The archakas in their traditional attire assembled at the Kutch Bhavan at King Koti having come from
different districts, and started off in two rows amidst Vedic chanting. Instead of bypassing as they would
have done during such processions for fear of incidents, passers-by came close to witness the unique
features of the two-furlong-long rally and absorb the soothing Vedic reciting renting the air like
``Vaasudevaya namaha...'' When one or two young pujaris tried to raise anti-government slogans, they
were shouted down by elder archakas such as Dr M. V. Soundara Rajan.

On reaching the Commissioner's office the archakas squatted in a dharna occupying a half of the road
along, leaving the other half to traffic flow. A delegation consisting Dr Soundara Rajan, Mr T.
Ramacharya, president of the samakya, and Mr A. Atreya Babu, general secretary, submitted a
memorandum to the Commissioner, Mr. Ajeya Kallam. Mr. Kallam promised to do his best.

23
Speaking to The Hindu later, Mr Ajeya Kallam said the draft for newly announced pay scales for archakas
was under preparation and it would be notified soon calling for objections, if any, before implementation.
Referring to a charge made by the samakhya, he said, no orders were issued from the department to relieve
any archaka, treating 58 years as retirement age as in the case of government staff. The 65-year age would
be maintained, as was now, till the final judgement came from the High Court.

Regarding Bhimasen Acharyulu, the archaka of Yoganaraismha temple at Alampur in Mahabubnagar


district, who had committed suicide on receipt of the relieving order, he said the family was immediately
given an ex gratia of Rs 25,000 and his son absorbed as pujari within a week. About the exemption sought
from the 15 per cent contribution to be made by the 6 (C) category temples whose annual income was less
than Rs 50,000, he said, the Government was examining this with a view to settling it amicably.

Temple bandh

The archakas as part of their agitation, have decided to close temples on Kartika Purnima day, which falls
on November 30. They would perform regular rituals but shun ``all types of arjitha sevas'' such as
abhisekhams to devotees.

Announcing this, the Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakhya general secretary, Mr A. Atreya Babu, said this
extreme step was taken to allow an ``atmavalokanam'' (introspection) by the Government/department as
well as the archakas themselves about their demands. However, he said, this would be resorted to only if
the Government/department did not settle their problems by then.

3 What Happened Between Years 1996 to 2004?

It is a very hard path to change the perception of the society and through this the
legislature and finally the Judiciary and it requires diligent sustained action for years
together before one even sees any change and one has to be prepared to meet many
failures in the path before success.
The first major development in this direction was the publishing of the Status Paper on
Temple Management in Andhra Pradesh which was released by his Holiness Sri Kaliyan
Vanamamalai Ramanuja Jeer, the Head of Vanamamalai Mutt on 23.8.1996. The paper
contains an in depth analysis of the various judgements of the Supreme Court with their
implications. The Status paper made the people think about the issue and it was discussed
at different forums. The Copies of the Status Paper was filed in the Supreme Court also.
Definitely the higher circles in the Govt of Andhra Pradesh came to know about the truth
and factual situation only after reading the paper. Following is the extract from Hindu Dt
9.9.1996 in the column ―Between you and me‖ by KS on the said Status Paper.
Recently I read a well researched Status Paper on the Management of the Hindu
Religious and Charitable Institutions and Endowments in the State of Andhra Pradesh by
Prof M.V. Soundararajan. It deals with the pathetic condition of the archakas in most of
our temples. Most of us don‟t want to even discuss this problem as we want to be
considered secular. Prof. MVS has brought to light the problems of our long suffering
archakas. Here are extracts from the paper :
(h) The Supreme Court has directed the State Government to constitute a Committee to
go into the question to rationalize the pay scales of all the Archakas in different temples
and modality of paying salaries to them.
(k) since all these archakas are to be treated as Government servants in course of time,
they will demand payment of salaries under the Minimum Wages Act. They may be

24
justified in demanding that salary because the salary of an attender in the Department is
on the basis of the scale of Rs 1375-25-1474-30-1625-40-1825-50-2075-60-2375. It
should be noted that the attender‟s salary is being paid out of the Endowments
Administration Fund. The Fund is maintained out of the contributions made by the
individual temples including that of poor temples where the archaka is paid a
consolidated salary of Rs 300/- per month.
No allowance will be given to the archakas as they must be satisfied with the immediate
presence of Lakshmi, they are expected to worship Saraswathi and not Lakshmi. It is a
matter of shame that we treat archakas the way we do because of fear of being dubbed
non-secular. Fear leads to fuzzy thinking. The Status Paper is published in the May 1996
supplement of Sri Narasimha Priya available from Sri Ahobila Muth, Hyderabad-
500013. We must know what the problems are. We should not pay respectable inattention
to them so that we may be considered secular. The Status paper is clearly written and
will be argued.
The Archakas started a state-wide agitation with a daylong hunger strike on 9 th
September, 1996 in front of the Office of the Commissioner of Endowments protesting
against the circulars issued by him in March and April 1996 by the way of implementing
the judgement to stop payments to the hereditary trustees, requiring the mathadipathis to
maintain accounts of the padakanukas and to stop payment of all the shares to Archakas.
In the circular dated March 31, the Commissioner said ―If any amount or share, either
cash or kind, was paid previously by virtue of status quo ante order of the Supreme Court,
such amounts should be adjusted while computing the salary payable to them as per
rules‖.
There were public meetings protesting against the action of the Endowments Department
at Tenali, Rajhamundry, Guntur, Vijayawada, Ongole, Bhimavaram, Narasaraopet,
Sathenapally,Amalapuram, Panyam, Nandayal, Warangal, Khamam etc. A symposium
was held on 2.10.1996 at Secunderabad. Following is the extract from Hindu Dt
7.10.1996 in the column ―Between you and me‖ on the said symposium :-
I met the head of Sri Vanamamalai Math at Sri Lakshminarasimha Swamy Temple,
Secunderabad and asked him about his views on the condition of Archakas in AP. He
said that he would like the Government to keep off religious affairs as far as possible.
Reforms must be brought about by the people concerned voluntarily but not enforced.
There was a meeting on this subject last week in Sri Mahalakshmi Temple and several
people participated. Speakers were concerned at the pathetic plight of Archakas.
Till recently stories used to begin like this „Long long ago, there was a poor Brahmin.
Hereafter, stories may begin „Recently there was a poor Archaka‟. „Go on what
happened to him?‟ He is no more he joined the lotus feet of the Lord.
It is reported that two Archaka families committed suicide in AP for lack of income. They
could not survive on faith. Something must be done, that too soon, so that our Archakas
can survive. When we say „Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhanvantu‟, we must think of the
Archakas also.

As a result of these agitations the Commissioner of Endowments issued a circular dt


31.01.1997 regarding the issue of lands under the possession of the Archakas.
Unfortunately the specific instructions in the circular were violated in many cases by the

25
officials of the Department who took a very anti Archaka attitude making the situation
even worse.
It is against this backdrop that the journal called VAK was born on October 2000. The
following is an excerpt from the very first Editorial
There is a need for reforms in all segments of Management of Temples and other
institutions. The reforms have to come from within. Neither the Legislature nor the
Judiciary can achieve this. The Society and the Society alone has to be enlightened about
it for carrying out the requisite reforms, VAK will play a role in this endeavor. Let us
strive for that goal. Let all people be happy.(VAK Editorial December 200)
VAK has been speaking the language of the devotees who have now realized that to be
mute spectators would be detrimental to this system of worship and to this glorious
religion. In its long crusade against the 30/87 Legislation, various editorials have been
written
Is not Lord Venkateshwara a witness to all this! Definitely he is aware of the honorable
intentions of the Supreme Court. He must have felt assured that the Archakas who for
generations together have served Him and his various manifestations in many other
temples in the state would from now on worry less for their material welfare and can pay
undivided attention to their duties. The Lord may be wondering as to why responsible
people at the Government failed to fulfill their promises, initiated steps to retreat from
their commitments, failed to appreciate the importance of taking better care of Archakas.
The intelligent and well meaning bureaucracy should appropriately advise the policy
makers that going back on promises made will send shock waves and make God‟s
Archakas orphans… ( VAK Editorial Feb 2001 on Archaka Welfare Fund)
From the evidence on record, we could see that the administration of temples and other
institutions is in the grip of a two-fold malady eating away into its very vials. On one
hand, it paves the way to induct partymen into the administration of the institutions
irrespective of the considerations germene to the interest of the institutions. On the other,
the trustees are not administering the affairs of the institutions and their interest is only
to improve their political image in public. (VAK Editorial July 2001 on Temple Trust
Boards)
From the report appearing in The Hindu dated 7 th May 2002 it can be seen that the Anti-
corruption Bureau has unearthed Rs 2.3 Crores worth of assets in its raids conducted on
the premises of a high ranking official of the Endowments Department. VAK has been
consistently pointing out clearly that it is the Draconian Endowments Legislation 30/87,
that is responsible for the present situation. It is this Legislation that has initiated,
propagated, nurtured, fanned and is sheltering Corruption in the Temple system in the
State. If this legislation continues to stay, Corruption will get further entrenched; if it
goes. CORRUPTION in the Endowments Department and the Temple system as a whole
is shown the door. (VAK Editorial May 2002 on Corruption )
VAK has been spearheading the Temples Protection Movement at Chilkur Balaji Temple
which was turning out as an embarrassment to the corrupt elements in Temple
Administration in the State. With an intention to throttle VAK, the 30/87 legislation was
used. VAK revolted in December 2001 with a call to the devotees which resulted in a
huge outcry which goes to prove that, if the devotees stand united, such efforts can
always be given a fitting reply…

26
Should the devotees be mute spectators to the process of destruction of the only Hindu
Temple in Andhra Pradesh which has stood despite the onslaughts of the 30/87
Endowments Act?
Appealing to Devotees to safeguard this Temple which they have been adoring, loving,
praying at coming from very far off places just because of the non-commercialization and
preserving of the Sampradayams is the only alternative left to us.
Hey Balaji, You protect your Temple now !
Devotees constitute a significant proportion of our voting population. Democracy offers
the unique opportunity of allowing the voters to express, in no unmistakable terms, as to
how they want to be governed in a democracy. The Assembly in AP has been dissolved
and the Elections will be held in due course. The draconian legislation namely the 30/87
Endowments Act has to be reviewed. The untold damage perpetuated by the said
Legislation in 16 years of its existence has resulted in the closure of thousands of
Temples. DARKNESS IS SPREADING NOT JUST IN TEMPLES BUT ALSO IN EVERY
WALK OF LIFE. Let the lights be lit now. Let all the political parties be made to realize
that they must commit themselves to a thorough revision of this legislation by including
this issue as a priority item in their respective election manifestos.
The time has come now for the devotees to strongly resolve to impress upon the political
parties that decommercialization of the temples is a must. This must be tackled on a
priority basis and that this can be achieved only by the review of the draconian 30/87
Endowments Legislation by its inclusion as a priority item in the Election Manifestos by
the Political parties.
This is the most opportune moment for ensuring that Temples are restored to the
Devotees. (VAK Editorial December 2003)
In December 2003 a call was given by VAK under the banner of Temples Protection
Movement for a response from devotees in the form of a signature campaign for the
review of the 30/87 Legislation, the most Draconian Legislation against the very
existence of Temples.
People had their own apprehensions about the request for signatures. ―What will a few
signatures do?‖ This is a one-man movement; the General Public or the Devotees are not
bothered about what is happening inside the Temples and with the temples‖. Few others
thought that this is confined to only Chilkur Balaji Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and so
does not concern the entire devotee community.
All apprehensions were proved wrong! Signatures poured in thousands every day.
Though the deadline was fixed as 20 th December, there were many anxious callers who
requested that their signatures also be accepted beyond the date of the deadline. What
does the response indicate? It indicates that all the opinions that people had were proved
invalid. Every signature was a physical expression as a protest against the devastating
30/87 legislation. Every signature revealed a silent explosion of the pent up feelings of
the devotees against the physical destruction that the legislation has done to over 32000
Temples in Andhra Pradesh. They came from all corners of the State. This response was
an eye opener for all the Political parties that this is the clear opinion of the people that
they do not like this destructive legislation, which was damaging their Temples, their
culture and their religion and thus their Society. As desired by the thousands of
signatories, all the political parties were informed of the strong sentiments behind these
signatures and were requested to consider review of the Draconian Legislation as a top

27
priority item in their manifestoes. The Congress Party and the BJP responded by
including this issue in their manifestos in 2004.
This shows that the sentiment for protection of Temples was equally impacted in all
regions of the State, Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema.
Thus the amendment to the draconian 30/87 Legislation became an election issue in
Andhra Pradesh Assembly Elections of 2004.
During this period the Book ―Legislation for Temple Destruction‖ and ―Chilukuru
Thirugubattu (Chilkur Struggle)‖ were also published which helped shape the public
opinion.

4 How the Draconian 30/87Endowments Act got amended?

The late Hon‘ble Chief Minister Archaka Bhandu Shri Dr. Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy who
was the prime mover of the amendments to 30/87 Act was moved by the plight of the
traditional archaka families during his now famous padayatra and he wanted to make a
difference in their lives as he understood the need to look to their welfare as the welfare
of the society depended on it. He responded to the suggestion of Temples Protection
Movement and also the Archaka organizations that were spear heading the agitation, to
include the promise to amend the draconian 30/87 Act in the Election manifesto of the
Congress Party.
There have been many editorials and newspaper columns and television programmes on
the way Shri Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy reformed various segments through his
innovative ideas, but the one main segment which needs special focus here is the Temple
System, as this is the one segment that he promised to reform as a service to the Almighty
and which also happened to be his very first promise made during the famous 2003
padayatra; and which also found a place in the Congress Manifestos of 2004 and also in
2009. Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy sincerely believed that service to divine is very essential for
success of his other Government programs which is only possible through divine grace
and therefore he made the reformation of the temple system in the state of Andhra
Pradesh which was in a state of complete decay a key focus item of his administration.
The first thing that he realized based on inputs from his officials, archaka organizations,
devotees and also based on his own experience during the padayatra that temples
especially village temples are in a total state of decay due to the onslaught of the 30/87
Endowments Act. He also saw for himself the poverty that archakas of these temples
were living in and still trying to continue rituals in temples. From the very first day in
office he made it a priority to better the lives of archakas whom he recognized were very
key to the survival of rituals in temples and most of whom were sincere in performing
them to their presiding deities even under extreme poverty. He made bettering the lives of
archakas a primary focus of his Government, something no other Government has ever
done in the past, and when it is a contemporary political strategy to gain votes by
denigrating archakas here was a leader who was willing to swim against the tide, to
embrace them and show them the respect that is their due even against the advice of his
own strategists; for the simple reason that he truly believed, that bettering the lives of
archakas and protecting them is a very important aspect of service to the divine. He
ensured consensus across the political spectrum by first having the Temple and Archaka

28
issues discussed in an All Party Meeting conducted on 4.10.2004 a first of its kind in the
entire country.
Unfortunately after the All Party Meeting there was not much movement on the
amendment as the corrupt officials of the Endowments Department were creating several
obstacles to the amendments even though the late Chief Minister was interested. Several
agitations were conducted during this period and several times the Archaka leaders had to
meet the late Chief Minister as in every step of the way the amendments used to get
stalled for one reason or the other and would move the next step only with the
intervention of the late Chief Minister. The agitation against the department reached its
peak on April 26th 2006 when over 2000 Archakas laid siege to the Endowments
Department. The event was unprecedented and was widely covered in the Media. The
following is the coverage in The Hindu Dt 27.4.2006.

Archakas perform `sarpayagnam'

Staff Reporter

Ritual to help get rid of `snakes' obstructing the welfare of temple priests

UNIQUE RITUAL: Members of the Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakhya


performing `homam' at Andhra Saraswati Parishat in Hyderabad on Wednesday. -
Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

HYDERABAD: Members of the Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakhya (APAS) performed


a `Sarpayagnam' on the premises of the Andhra Saraswati Parishat and got rid of `snakes'
that were coming in the way of improving the lot of temple priests in the State.

As Section 144 was in force in the city, archakas chose the Parishat located right opposite
the offices of Endowments Department in Boggulkunta for their `Sarpadikbandhanam'.

29
Archakas and like-minded people from all over the State converged on the city for the
agitation programme and prominent among those present were T. Ramacharyulu and
M.V. Soundararajan, the samakhya's president and vice-president, respectively.

Their demands included a halt to political interference in administration of the 32,000-


odd small and big temples in the State, amendment to the Endowments Act that,
according to the samakhya, paved the way for commercialisation, politicisation, anti-
archaka and anti-devotee stand.

After the above agitation the activities to amend the legislation gained speed with the late
Chief Minister closely monitoring this and he was instrumental in the introduction of the
amendment Bill 7/2007 on 28.3.2007 and when there was opposition to the amendments
within his own party he referred the Bill to a Select Committee on 9.4.2007 and ensured
that the Committee completes its work in record time.
The Select Committee was constituted on 14.6.2007 with fifteen hon‘ble legislators
headed by the then Hon‘ble Endowments Minister Shri J. Ratnakar Rao all of whom kept
aside their political affiliations and functioned as pure devotees. The Select Committee
held seven sittings and consulted all the stake holders and gave an historic report which
was tabled in the House on 16.11.2007 recommending revolutionary changes to the
7/2007 Bill. The late Chief Minister took a very bold step to incorporate all the
recommendations of the Select Committee unmindful of threats from the Endowments
Employees and even his colleagues who counseled taking more time. He forced the
introduction of the amended Bill which was piloted by the Hon‘ble Endowments Minister
and was unanimously passed in both the houses on 19.11.2007. Endowments amendment
Act 33 of 2007 which came into force on 3.1.2008 has many revolutionary ideas, it gives
a prominent position to archakas and devotees in management of temples, and also
protects traditional archaka familes; and through the constitution of Dharmika Parishad
enables guidance in matters of temple administration through eminent personalities; it is a
very great legacy of the late Hon‘ble Chief Minister. The late Chief Minister through Sec
34(3) of Act 33 of 2007 took a very bold decision to restore back the right to
archakatvam for hereditary archakas against tremendous opposition from all his advisers,
colleagues who warned of a potential political backlash. The moment he was convinced
that this was essential for survival of rituals in the low income village temples which
form majority of our temples he did not hesitate and there was no looking back; at the
same time he ensured that the right to appoint non-hereditary archakas was retained, thus
keeping the door open for any reformation the society may deem fit in the future like
appointing archakas from all castes etc. He also exempted low income temples from the
purview of Sec 144 thus providing the much needed relief to thousands of archakas
across the state who could retain the plate collections and other offerings from the
devotees and proceeds from temple lands, this was essential for their very survival. He
did not care about the political consequences of these decisions; his only objective was
service to the Almighty. He also started a new scheme called Dhoopa Dheepa Naivedyam
scheme through which rituals were protected in very low income temples by giving
financial support to the archakas. Rituals in thousands of temples across the state have
been protected through this scheme. It is thus no wonder that the State of Andhra Pradesh
as predicted by the Agamas enjoyed tremendous prosperity with peace and timely rains

30
during his tenure which was unfortunately cut short through a tragic accident and which
has lead to the current state of unrest and despondency due to the fact that large weaker
sections of the society have not yet come to terms with his untimely demise. It is also a
fact that because the late Chief Minister toiled to restore the temples in rural areas and re-
ignited the God Consciousness in rural people thus restoring Dharma that he could easily
addresses the Naxalite problem. Shri Ananda Theertha Swamy of Kurnool who tours the
entire state with an Anjeneya vigraha doing bhajans was once prevented by Naxalites
when he was passing through a dense forest. They asked him to explain about Dharma
and about our great epics and when he gave his discourse throughout the night many
Naxalites had tears in their eyes and said to him that if they had someone explain all these
when they were young, they would not have chosen this path of violence being away
from their families and the society. The late Chief Minister recognized the important role
that village archakas were playing in instilling the concept of Dharma in villagers and
also educating them on our great epics. Therefore he focused his attention on reviving
rural temples and strengthening the hands of the Archakas, by focusing on their welfare,
which was the reason he could solve the Naxalite problem.

5 Salient Features of Act 33 of 2007

The salient features of the Act reproduced from the Statement Of Objectives are as
follows :-
“ (i) Reclassification of the temples for the purpose of
Constituting Board of trustees giving greater autonomy to the
local committees to manage the temples keeping in view the
traditions, sampradayams and wishes of devotees. (ii)
Reclassification of the temples for the purpose of appointment
of Executive Officer with a view to achieve greater efficiency
in bigger temples and effective supervision over smaller
temples without overburdening temples with avoidable
administrative expenses. (iii) Preserving the sanctity of
traditional religious rituals by giving a preferential treatment
to members of traditional archaka families to continue the
temple worship according to particular agama, custom and
usage governing the particular temple. (iv)Creating a Dhoopa
Deepa Naivedyam Fund to support and revive temples that
have meager income. (v) Safeguard valuable endowment lands
in urban areas and major gram panchayats by excluding them
from possibility of sale to lease holders (vi) Constitution of
Bhaktha Samajams with devotees in each temple for
organizing bhajans and religious discourse etc. to recreate the
devotional ambience traditionally associated with temples
(vii) Constitution of Sanatana Dharma Parishad under the
Chairmanship of Minister of Endowments at State level to
advise the Government in matters of temple administration
and all matters related to preservation of Hindu culture and
religion”

31
In addition, the Act provides for the Archaka to be made an ex-officio member of the
trust board. In a nutshell the Act brings about the following ameliorative steps namely (1)
re-classification of the temples with a view to exclude temples below Rs.2.00 lakhs from
the purview of certain provisions of the Act, (2) to make the Archaka a member of the
Trust Board, (3) not to appoint an Executive Officer to temples whose income is below
Rs.2.00 lakhs, (4) to revive the hereditary Archakathwam and to exclude the temples
whose income is below Rs.5.00 lakhs from the provisions of Section 144 and to exclude
the temples with an income of less than Rs.50,000/- from the liability to pay annual
contribution. (5)The Act also provides for constitution of a Dharmika Parishad while
bringing the entire Endowments administration under the control of the Parishad as
recommended by the Select Committee. In fact the Select Committee has expanded on
the role of AP Dharmika Parishad as follows:-
“A semi-autonomous apex body called Andhra Pradesh
Dharmika Parishad is sought to be created to oversee the
management of the entire temple system in the State. It would
most likely discharge most of the functions being currently
performed by the government. It would have the authority and
responsibility to institute appropriate administrative, financial
and legal mechanisms to ensure that endowments are
preserved, dilapidated temples are renovated, temples become
piligrim-friendly, the rich traditions and cultural heritage are
preserved and all stakeholders participate in a spirit of
partnership with devotion and dedication to bring Temples
back into social life as centers of moral education, human
welfare, fine arts and architecture”.
(6) The Act also provides for constitution of Bhaktha Samajam for every temple.

6 How the Chilkur System of worship was protected through G.O.Ms.No. 260?

The Chilkur temple whose presiding deity is Lord Venkateshwara is an ancient temple
situated 35KMs from the Hyderabad city. This temple is an unique temple and it follows
an unique system of worship without any VIP treatment, Single Queue for all devotees,
No cash offerings and also no Hundi with the sole objective of increasing devotion in
devotees not income from them. This temple is a world famous temple and its system of
worship has been universally acclaimed. The temple gained tremendous popularity in a
short span of 10 Years after the Unique System of worship was implemented on Dec 8 th
2001.
The Temples Protection Movement is run from the premises of this temple along with a
journal called VAK. The movement‘s objective is to ensure protection of rituals in all
temples and also to ensure de-commercialization and de-politicization of our temple
system. It is through this movement that large scale awareness was created among the
devotees on the destruction caused by the corrupt elements of the Endowments
Department using the draconian 30/87 legislation as the weapon of destruction. It is also
through this movement that sharp awareness was created in the minds of the devotees on
the need to de-commercialize and de-politicize our temples so that the Spiritual
atmosphere that is so essential for the survival of a temple is protected.

32
The Chilkur temple has been the takeover target of the Andhra Pradesh Endowments
Department for many years now because of the challenge posed by the Chilkur System of
Worship which is diametrically opposite to the system followed in the temples managed
by the department where it is the income from devotees that is given paramount
importance as against increasing devotion in them. The temple is also the takeover target
because of the Temples Protection Movement that is being run from its premises and
which is a direct challenge to the corrupt elements of the Endowments Department who
have been trying to scuttle the amendments to Act 30/87 in one way or the other.
Literally every third degree method has been used to wrest control of this Temple so that
the voice for change can once for all be silenced. It is a miracle and only due to the grace
of the Almighty that this movement is still going strong and we exist to write this
submission to this Hon‘ble committee.
The corrupt elements of the Department intensified their efforts to engineer a takeover of
this temple from the Year 2005 onwards as soon as they realized that amendment to the
30/87 Act was imminent, by filing a mischievous Public Interest Litigation in the Hon‘ble
High Court asking for immediate constitution of a trust board under Sec 15 of the Act and
appointment of an Executive Officer under Sec 29 of the Act. The Hon‘ble High Court
directed the Government to take a decision for constitution of the trust board under Sec
15 of the Act without addressing my contentions. Subsequently I approached the Hon‘ble
Supreme Court through an SLP challenging the Division Bench judgement. In the
meantime devotees started to protest the takeover attempt of the department and
signatures started pouring in against this move from all over the world as the devotees did
not want their beloved temple to be commercialized. The Hon‘ble Supreme Court while
setting aside the Division Bench judgement directed the Government as under:
“Having heard the parties, we are of the view that the Court
has not dealt with the contention of the petitioner that there
was no Question of appointment of Board of Trustees. We are
further of the view that even this issue as to whether there
should be a Board of Trustees or not should be left for being
decided by the State respondent”
After receiving the above order from the Hon‘ble Supreme Court I petitioned the
Government to appoint an Expert Committee to look into this matter thread bare. The late
Hon‘ble Chief Minister Shri Dr. Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy responded to this request and
promised to constitute an expert committee to look into this matter.
The Government of Andhra Pradesh constituted the Three Member Experts committee
headed by Shri P.V.R.K Prasad to look into the Chilkur issue. The same three member
committee which looked into the controversial 1000 pillar mantapam controversy in
Tirumala was entrusted with this job. The Committee after taking the views of all the
stake holders including us and also devotees who sent signatures number over a Lakh
submitted its report to the Government. The committee recommended strongly for
protecting and continuing the system of worship that had evolved in this temple. The
Committee also was very critical of the functioning of the department and had this to
say…..
“The Committee considers that it is this type of arbitrary
functioning according to one‟s whims and fancies, not even
caring for the Act and Rules by some of the Officers of the

33
Endowments Department which has brought the Department
to disrepute.”
The Andhra Pradesh Government based on the recommendation of the Shri P.V.R.K.
Prasad committee issued G.O.Ms.No. 260 mandating that the unique system of worship
that has evolved in this temple be protected and continued forever. The Government
through the GO exempted the temple from Sec 15 and Sec 29 of the Act and also
constituted a Management Committee to administer the affairs of the temple. This is an
historical and an unprecedented GO that in years to come will become the model for
other temples which would want to adopt the Chilkur Model.
A FILE PHOTO

PRAYER TIME: Devotees doing ‗pradakshina‘ at the Chilkur Balaji temple.

HYDERABAD: The Government has issued orders granting full autonomy to the Chilkur
Balaji temple.

The G.O. No.260 dated February 29, based on the recommendations of the
P.V.R.K.Prasad Committee, has stated that ―the unique practice of worship which has
evolved in the temple be honoured, preserved and continued, i.e running the temple
without ‗Hundi‘, special ‗Arjit Sevas‘, no special privileges for VIPs and no cash
offerings.‖

Exemption

The Government has exempted the temple from Sec.15 (Constitution of temple trust
board) and Sec.29 (Appointment of executive officer) of the Endowments Act.

The genesis for both Act 33 of 2007 and G.O.Ms.No. 260 was the 2003 Padayatra of the
late Chief Minister where he made the very first promise of his now famous Padayatra to
the deity of Chilkur that if voted to power he will do his utmost to protect temples which
were in a state of decay. The late Chief Minister believed deeply in the philosophy of the
Chilkur System of Worship that everyone is equal before Almighty and temples have to
be run with a motive to increase devotion in devotees not income from them. Which is
why he did his best to protect this temple from the section of department which always
wanted to forcibly takeover this temple and commercialize it, he ensured that

34
G.O.Ms.No.260 was issued on the basis of the recommendations of Shri P.V.R.K Prasad
committee to continue and protect the unique system of worship this temple forever in
deference to the wishes of crores of devotees. He was so deeply committed to this
philosophy that he tried his utmost to change the system prevailing in Tirumala to make it
common devotee friendly and closer to the Chilkur model before he met his tragic end. It
is heartening to note that unlike a section of Endowments Department the administration
of TTD consisting of the Trust Board and the officials have started working in the right
earnest to fulfill the cherished dream of the late Chief Minister Shri Dr. Y.S. Rajashekara
Reddy to make Tirumala accessible to common devotees. The following News report
appeared in The Hindu Dt June 11 2008.

Ticket system may go at Tirumala

M. L. Melly Maitreyi

HYDERABAD: In a significant initiative to ‗de-commercialise‘ the world-famous temple of Lord


Venkateshwara and enhance the spiritual experience for devotees, the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam
(TTD) Board is contemplating scrapping of special darshan tickets as also some of the ‗Arjita Sevas‘ (paid
worship).

In tune with the reforms, the Board recently constituted a two-member committee comprising former TTD
Executive Officer P.V.R.K. Prasad and former IPS officer C. Anjaneya Reddy to study the feasibility of
such an initiative and submit a report. The TTD had earlier rationalised VIP ‗darshan‘ on important
festivals so as not to inconvenience the commoners.

Mr. Prasad had earlier headed another committee constituted by the government to look into the grant of
autonomy to Chilkur Balaji temple here. He had recommended that the Chilkur temple, known for its
unique practice of ‗no sale of ticket, VIP darshan or hundi collection‘, be granted autonomy to the temple.

However, Mr. Prasad said the two temples should not be compared as Chilkur was already following a
reformist approach. The effort now was to change the existing practices at Tirumala and provide equal
access to all devotees, irrespective of their social status. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the
committee would consider various implications of removing ‗Arjita Sevas‘ as some of them were booked
years in advance.

Mr. Prasad, in an interview, discounted fears of a dip in temple revenue if such paid ‗sevas‘ and special
‗darshan‘ tickets were dispensed with. The income generated through them was ―nominal‖ when compared
to donations and hundi collections.

The Chilkur Temple is continuing to trail an un-trodden path by also taking many
initiatives which are both beneficial to our environment as well as providing livelihood to
the struggling handloom industry.

7 How the Andhra Pradesh Endowments Department blocked Act 33 of 2007?

Though the late Chief Minister Shri Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy could convince both his
political colleagues and opponents and bring about a consensus on the need to reform our
temple system sadly he could not convince the officials in the Endowments Department.

35
A strong lobby of corrupt officials of the Endowments Department first tried very hard to
scuttle the amendments to the 30/87 Act and when they were unsuccessful they focused
attention on scuttling its implementation. With the result many of the aspects of this Act
are still not implemented and worse the corrupt officials have blocked implementation of
key sections of the Act by mis-leading the Courts. It is pertinent to mention here that the
Temples Protection Movement and the Archaka organizations have spearheaded several
agitations against the functioning of the Endowments Department and many have been
given wide coverage in the media.

The Andhra Pradesh Legislature Select Committee in its report proposed the following
“The Select Committee deliberated upon the amendment to
Section 144 which is intended to improve the financial status
of low-income temples. The archakas and other office holders
working in this temple would have an option to either take a
share of the temple income or take the salaries wherever they
find that they are not able to make a living from the lands or
the offerings given by the devotees. Accordingly, the
amendment as proposed was approved as this is in conformity
with the observations of the Supreme Court, is in consonance
with the objectives of the Government to augment income
levels of small temples and gives an option to archakas and
other office holders and servants to opt for a scheme that is
more beneficial to them. The power to approve schemes where
there are special circumstances necessitating such a
formulation is being given to the Dharmika Parishad.”

Based on the above recommendation of the Select Committee a proviso was added to Sec
144 of the Act through amendment Act 33 of 2007 and it is unfortunate that due to the
fact that the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad constitution was stalled by the corrupt
elements no scheme beneficial to the Archakas could be approved till date in any temple.
On the basis of the Select Committee‘s recommendation a new Section 65-A has been
inserted in the Act through which a new fund is to be created called ―Archakas and other
Office holders and servants salary and other emoluments fund‖ wherein the Endowments
Department will pay salaries etc through a centralized pool. Unfortunately even this has
not yet been implemented with the result many traditional Archaka families continue to
be impoverished as they do not have any right to emoluments that they used to enjoy as
per the 1966 Act nor is there any beneficial scheme as per Sec 144 nor is there proper
salary through Sec 65-A.

The Temples Protection Movement has always stood by the Temples. When the
implementation of the amended Legislation was deliberately delayed, we had to write a
letter Dt 20th June 2009 to the late Hon‘ble Chief Minister.

36
20th June 2009
Chilkur Balaji Temple

To

Shri Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy


Hon‘ble Chief Minister
State Of Andhra Pradesh

From:

Prof M.V. Soundararajan


Pradhana Archaka Sri Balaji Temple Chilkur
Convenor Temples Protection Movement
Vice President Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakya
Editor Journal ―VAK Voice of Temples‖

Subject: Review of the Implementation of Endowments Act 33 of 2007 on


June 22 nd 2009

Dear Sir,
You have launched many welfare schemes for the poor, launched many
projects as part of Jala Yagnyam these may still be forgotten over time, but
the one thing that you will definitely be remembered for hundreds of years
from now, will be for your pivotal role in initiating far reaching reforms in
the temple system in the state of Andhra Pradesh; through a visionary
Endowments amendment Act 33 of 2007 rescuing thousands of Hindu
temples from decay; and a visionary GO 260 which protected the unique
system of worship at Chilkur temple and thus facilitating its adoption by
other temples leading to large scale de-politicization and de-
commercialization of all temples in due course.
We are extremely thankful that you have entrusted the important
responsibility of implementing Endowments Act 33 of 2007 to Shri Gade
Venkata Reddy the Hon‘ble Endowments Minister who has the best interests
of our temple system at heart and had opposed the ill-thought out draconian
30/87 legislation tooth and nail when it was introduced in 1987. We are also
thankful to the new Endowments Minister for quickly getting down to
business and having setup a thorough review of the functioning of the
Endowments Department with a sharp focus on the implementation status of
Act 33 of 2007 on 22 nd June 2009.
We would like to point out that even though over 16 months have passed
after the new Endowments Act 33 of 2007 came into force, there are several
aspects of this new Act which are not yet implemented; with the result that
the noble objectives set forth in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of this
Act is only partially met. The main reason is that a section of the officials of
the department have not internalized the fact that this Act is the policy of the

37
current Government; as was clearly articulated in both the 2004 and 2009
Election Manifestos of the Congress Party gaining the blessings of the
Almighty, with the result people have elected this Government. It is very
essential that a clear and stern message be delivered to the Endowments
officials during the course of the review of the implementation of the Act 33
of 2007 (part of Review Agenda) that the Government is determined to
implement Act 33 of 2007 for the betterment of the temples and will not
tolerate any obstacles in its path. We request your kind self and the Hon‘ble
Endowments Minister to use the occasion of this review to deliver this clear
and loud message to the officials of the Endowments department so that there
is no more delay in the implementation of the Act.
The most important item of Act 33 of 2007, which is the constitution of the
Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad and the functioning of the entire
Endowments Department under its autonomous control, is still pending;
though it was promised to be completed by Aug 15 th last year at the
conclusion of Varuna Yagnyam which brought us plenty of rains. This year
though the monsoon had set very early in May itself we have not had much
rains so far as we think the Almighty is waiting for the fulfillment of the
promise made last year, delay of which is solely due to a section of the
department officials who want to cling on to the powers that they have
enjoyed under the old Act 30 of 1987.
On behalf of crores of devotees we request your kind self and the Hon‘ble
Endowments Minister to ensure that the Dharmika Parishad is constituted at
the very earliest consisting of very eminent people so that the Parishad can
take the implementation process of Endowments Act 33 of 2007 forward.
This will be a yeomen service to all the deities in all the temples in our state
and the successful implementation of this Act will ensure the present
Government a five year term with timely rains, leading to peace and
prosperity for all.
Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely

(M.V. Soundararajan)

The following report from The Hindu dated July 26 2008 refers to the Varuna Yagnyam
performed in the month of July 2008 that the above letter refers to along with the promise
to constitute the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad.

Chief Minister attributes rain to TTD yagna

Special Correspondent
Assures to set up Archaka Dharmika Parishad

38
— Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Invoking rain: Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy carries the clothes to be
presented to the Lord on his head, on Friday.

HYDERABAD: Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has attributed the widespread
rains in the State during the last two days to the yagna performed by the Tirumala
Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) here.

Ever since the commencement of the yagna on Wednesday, the State was blessed with
extensive rains, he said after performing ‗poornahuti‘ on the final day of the ‗ashtothara
shatakundatmaka maha varuna yagam‘ at the Exhibition Grounds on Friday.

Amidst chanting of Vedic hymns, he offered clothes to the presiding deity of Tirumala
shrine at the pedestal where the main homam was conducted. The sacred fire was also lit
at 100 spots around the platform. Earlier, Dr. Reddy walked a few steps up to the
platform with clothes offered to Lord Venkateswara on his head. Dr. Reddy at his
felicitation ceremony, assured the archakas that an Archaka Dharmika Parishad would be
constituted shortly. Endowments Minister J. Ratnakar Rao, also participated

The late Hon‘ble Chief Minister responded to this letter quickly and gave a historic
speech to the officials of the Endowments Department on June 22cnd 2009 where he
emphasized the need to implement Act 33 of 2007 and also to constitute the Dharmika
Parishad at the very earliest and he also said that it is the duty of the Department to
uphold ―Dharma‖. The following is the reproduction of the historic speech as reported in
VAK July 2009 issue.
“If we protect Dharma, Dharma will protect us. In India the duty of protecting Dharma,
in the activities relating to protecting Dharma, the Endowments Department of every
state play an extraordinary role. Everyone of us belonging to every important department
perform our duties with increased commitment all the desired results can be easily
achieved.
When I was talking to people I expressed my opinion on the visits to temples in North
India. Many times we would feel with irritation why should we come to this temple. I have
seen many temples belonging to Nepal, Assam, other Northern regions. It is really
frightening feeling when you visit those temples. The reason for such a situation in those
temples is not because they lack money or devotion but because they lack commitment
and dedication. In Andhra Pradesh too many problems confronted the administration of
endowments department. The main object of the Dharmika Parishad was to make better

39
administration of temples. For the sake of establishing Dharmika Parishad the concerned
officials went over two years discussing with all the stake holders. After the thought of
establishing the Dharmika Parishad which was the outcome of a detailed exercise, we did
not stop by giving an executive instruction. We have formed a legislation…with the
amended legislation implementation would be better. A lot of people would think of
creating legislation and implementing that. But we wanted to prove our sincerity towards
better administration of temples. That is why we are initiating the implementation of this
legislation. For the last two years we are implementing the dhoopa dheepa naivedyam
scheme covering over 3,000 temples like never before.
Our Government extends funds to these small temples. For those temples, which need
repairs or need new construction or maintenance works, the common good fund is being
utilized. All the targets will be achieved with our dedicated efforts. The temple properties
are in huge numbers. But the income from them is very meager. This is a very major
complaint. There are 4.33 Lakh acres of temple lands worth more than 8,000 crores. Why
these lands have been given to the temples? The main intention was to protect temples,
the religion and help in propagation of the same. These are not for the benefit of
individuals, we will be encountering many problems but we have to see that the income
from these lands are increased. Lucklily you people have a good minister. He will not
tolerate any mistakes and he is a dedicated person.
The Lord‟s money gets digested better for some people…initially it would be good but no
one has prospered by swallowing God‟s money in the long run. Hence please remember
this fact. There should not be any mistakes anywhere. All temples whether small or big
should be administered better. A feeling of Devotion should come the moment we enter
the temples. Generally temples like Tirumala are being administered better compared to
temples in Northern parts of India. We have got a good name by administering the temple
better even though more than a lakh pilgrims visit the place daily. Last time I went there
some complaints regarding sanitation were heard. Over all our intention should be
focused on ways to increase devotion, take up important works in the temples, increase
facilities for devotees and make temples better. There should be no compromise in these
activities.
We have created Archaka Welfare Fund. We have restored hereditary rights for
archakas. Our intention is to take care of everyone‟s needs in one way or other. If we are
not able to provide facilities for people who work they cannot work properly. It can be a
government servant, the temple employees, archakas or anyone. We are committed to do
good for them.
Please keep these facts in mind when you discuss about the issues in today‟s meeting. We
have already stopped temple lands from being registered. Despite such precautions, there
are some corrupt people who will exploit loop holes. Be careful and don‟t allow any
nepotism or partiality in having works done.
The common devotee should feel that it is his temple. Create such a feeling among them.
We have already indicated that the VIP treatment should be reduced. VIPs are reducing
time available for poor pilgrims. We have taken measures to see that the darshan is
easily accessible for common man. I request the members assembled here to discuss in a
result oriented manner, issues pertaining to better administration of temples and I assure
you that we will take care of all the employees by removing any hurdles they face. Let us
all come together and perform better….”

40
Unfortunately on Sept 2 nd 2009 the late Chief Minister met with the tragic accident and as
predicted by him he retired at the age of 60Yrs achieving in a short period of five years as
Chief Minister what many great leaders take a whole life time.

Fortunately by the intiative of both the Endowments Minister Shri Gade Venkat Reddy
and the current Chief Minister Shri K. Roshiah who quickly cleared the file to constitute
the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad and in the midst of tremendous upheaval in the
state still found time to administer oath to the members of the Dharmika Parishad on Dec
16th 2009 thus signaling the start of the implementation process of Act 33 of 2007 in the
right earnest. The following is the report that appeared in The Hindu Dt 17.12.2009.

Dharmika Parishad members take oath

Special Correspondent
PHOTO: P.V. SIVAKUMAR

Holy task: Chief Minister K. Rosaiah administering oath to members of Dharmika


Parishad in Hyderabad on Wednesday. —

HYDERABAD: Dharmika Parishad, an apex body constituted with eminent persons from
various walks of life, Agama pundits and philanthropists for improving the administration
and maintenance of charitable Hindu religious institutions and Endowments, held its first
inaugural meeting here on Wednesday.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah who was the chief guest administered the oath to 27 members
of the Parishad at the inaugural session held at Jubilee Hall.

YSR‘s initiative

The new Endowment legislation 2007 with several amendments to earlier Act 30/1987
was passed thanks to the initiative taken by late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy
to ensure hereditary rights to archakas and maintenance of over 37,000 small neglected
temples.

41
Dharmika Parishad was an important aspect of the amended Act to advise the
government on administration and maintenance of temples and ensure propagation of
Hindu dharma, he said.

Welfare fund

As Endowments Act had no provision to provide funds directly for renovation of small
temples, he suggested to the Endowments Minister Gade Venkat Reddy, who is chairman
of the Parishad, to consider using the TTD funds released to Common Good Fund
through transfer of account. Earlier, Mr. Venkat Reddy said that Archakas and other
temple employees welfare fund was created with Rs.90 crore for welfare measures.
Government would also rationalise tenancy of temple lands and rent of shops to improve
temple revenues by March 31, he said. Temple Protection Movement convener M.V.
Soudararajan said Sanskrit should be taught in all temples to propagate Vedic and
spiritual knowledge to foster good thought, peace and harmony in society. Endowments
Commissioner Sundar Kumar, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Chairman D.
Adikeshavulu Naidu, EO I.Y.R. Krishna Rao were also present.

In the first Meeting of Dharmika Parishad held on 16.12.2009 at Jubilee Hall. The
following forward thinking resolutions were passed.

 Endowments Department shall make efforts to co-ordinate their activities


with T.T.D., to make them more and more effective and widespread.
 Training modules to Archakas and secular employees shall be prepared
and training imparted in a phased manner.
 The role of Veda Pandits shall be reviewed in the temple and make them
more active.
 Propagation of Sanskrit language in a simple format to be taken up
through the temple system to bring awareness among the devotees.
 Commercialization of activities in temples should be minimized.
 Mula Mantra Parayanam shall be ensured in all the temples to keep the
spiritual powers enhanced.
 To give emphasis on renovation and development of temples in rural
areas and ensure presence of Archakas for performing regular poojas.
 Dharmika Parishad shall strive to create confidence through proper
administration to attract Donors and Philanthropists for the development
of temples and propagation of Hindu Dharma.
 Engineering wing of Endowments Department shall be strengthened.
 Ban carrying of cell phones either by the temple staff or devotees in the
temple.
 To establish Panditha Parishads in each district to impart refresher
courses to the Archakas to improve their knowledge and performance of
poojas.

42
 Decided to constitute Sub-Committees with the Members as per their
interest and experience in the respective subjects within 15 days.
 It is resolved to authorize the Chairman to constitute the Sub-Committee.
The above Resolutions were released to the Press by the Endowments
Commissioner, Sri P. Sunder Kumar IAS, who is the Member Secretary of the
Dharmika Parishad.
The Government also followed this up by taking stern steps in appointing a young and
dynamic Commissioner of Endowments recently on whom there is high expectations. It
is going to be an uphill task to discipline an unruly department which has tasted
tremendous power under the old Act and is now not ready to relinquish it and is
continuing to scheme. Still there is tremendous hope among the devotees and the archaka
community that finally the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad which has very eminent
personalities will be able to protect our temples and also do justice to the impoverished
archaka families.

8 Need for a Central Uniform Comprehensive Legislation on Hindu Religious Institutions

For over 40 years, though forgotten, one of the most comprehensive Commission Report
on Temple Administration running into 524 pages, 16 Chapters and 20 appendices
remained unopened. The Commission spent 3 years meeting people from different
sections in the entire length and breadth of the country. We are talking about the ―Report
of the Hindu Religious Endowments Commission‖ also mentioned as C.P. Ramaswamy
Iyer Commission Report.
VAK, a trilingual magazine, edited by me serialized this report for over 60 months
spanning over five years of fighting the draconian 30/87 Legislation on temples in A.P. It
became the responsibility of VAK to bring to light this report which advocated a
comprehensive legislation for all religious institutions without singling out only the
Hindu institutions. In this connection it may be noted that the Hyderabad Endowments
Regulation 1349 Fasli (1940) was appreciated by the Commission as it applied uniformly
to all Religious Institutions. The Hyderabad Endowments Regulations was drafted
through a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Tejbahdur Sapru a famous jurist of
our country who played a major role in shaping the destiny of the nation.
The C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer Commission report unlike the Challah Kondiah
Commission‘s report was not biased and had no preconceived notions. It is this report
which can save the Temple System in the entire country if implemented. Eminent Jurists,
law makers, Legislators, Temple administrators, have all heaped grateful appreciation for
this work of VAK. The appointment of the C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer Commission was
announced on the 1 st March, 1960 when Shri Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime
Minister and its first meeting was held in New Delhi on the 5 th March, 1960. The final
report of the Commission was submitted on 31.5.1962.
Contextually, the Commission documented the following recommendations :-
―....Certain important witnesses from Bombay, Hyderabad and other places including
representatives of the State Governments concerned have in their testimony before the
Commission been emphatic in declaring that no difficulty has been or will be experienced
in implementing comprehensive legislation which deals alike with Hindu, Muslim,

43
Christian and other endowments and contains certain basic regulations in respect of them.
These witnesses have stated that many advantages have accrued from uniform legislation
dealing with all communities and not confined solely to Hindus and that those in charge
of administering these laws have found no difficulty in carrying out the provisions of
these laws which, it may be observed, preclude the officers enforcing them from
interfering in purely internal matters of religious doctrines, ceremonial or ritual. In fact, it
may be added that several persons who have submitted memoranda as well as those who
have tendered oral evidence have taken strong exception to an inquiry like ours which is
conducted solely with advertence to Hindu institutions. The gravamen of such complaints
is that the inquiry seeks to discriminate between the Hindu community and other
communities and to penalise it in contradistinction to other communities whose
endowments are being left untouched by provisions which attempt in their view to
circumscribe or regulate the rights, duties and obligations of those in charge of such
endowments. While we are aware that this aspect of the matter is strictly speaking,
outside the terms of reference, we are at the same time of the opinion that we would be
failing in our duty if this point of view and the strength of the feelings entertained in this
regard were not brought to the notice of the Government of India. In this connection we
would like to invite attention to the provisions of article 44 in Part IV (Directive
Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution. That article requires the State to endeavour
to secure for the citizens a uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. In the
light of the opinions expressed by the Governments and the person in charge of the
practical administration of the laws in force in Hyderabad, Gujarat and Maharashtra, we
take the view that there is no insuperable difficulty or complication in enacting a uniform
type of legislation dealing with the religious endowments of all communities in India.
Such legislation should, of course incorporate such special provisions as may be
considered necessary for the religious endowments of individual religions or
communities. We therefore recommend that the Government may consider the
proposition of such uniform legislation after ascertaining the views of other communities,
if necessary. This uniform legislation can incorporate with advantage many of the
provisions of the Religious Trusts Bill, 1960 which was in the Lok Sabha (for example,
the provisions seeking to ensure that all religious trusts within the jurisdiction of the
Commissioner are properly administered and the income thereof duly appropriated and
applied to the objects of such trusts (cl. 5), clause 11 which deals with the preparation and
the modification of budgets, clause 12 which ensures the maintenance of proper accounts,
clause 13 which relates to the investment of trust monies as well as the provisions
relating to the audit of accounts (cl. 14) inspection and returns, (cl. 15).... (P.31)‖
....The legislation recommended by us relates to topics which appertain to the
Concurrent List. Where State legislation has already been undertaken and carried out, the
suggestions that we make will supersede the provisions of the local legislation where they
are inconsistent with our recommendations. Where States have not passed legislation
regarding religious endowments the provisions that we have recommended will be
embodied in a statute which will apply suo motu to those States in question unless and
until they pass legislation carrying out the objectives of our recommendations....
(P.31)‖
The amendment Act 33 of 2007 was motivated by the C.P. Ramswamy Iyer Commission
report and the concept of the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad under Sec 152 of the

44
Act and the Tribunals under Sec 161 of the Act are close to the recommended National
Tribunals in the C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer Commission‘s report, point no 20 – 24 of the
report. Several other sections of the amendment Act 33 of 2007 are also as per the
recommendations of the Commission. For example the Commission has recommended
that dispute in succession in Mutts be referred to the Tribunal and Act 33 of 2007 gives
such powers to the Dharmika Parishad through amended Sec 55 of the Act. The
Commission recommended that there should be qualification for both hereditary archakas
and hereditary trustees and this has been taken care through amended Sec 34 and Sec 17
of the Act. The Commission strongly recommended that unless specifically given to any
particular person in or connected with a temple or mutt all gifts and offerings are, and
should be, the property at the disposal of the institution; the amended Sec 144 along with
the scheme concept is as per the recommendation of the Commission (Refer Appendix I).
It is also pertinent to note here that amendment Act 33 of 2007 is also on the basis of
Justice Rama Jois Committee report which recommended amendments to the Karnataka
Endowments Act (which is yet to be amended) and whose report was read by the Andhra
Pradesh Select Committee before formulating their recommendations. Over 40
Peetadhipathies who congregated in Tirumala for the Hindu Dharma Prachara Sadas in
June 2008 resolved that the Jois Committee recommendations should be implemented all
over the country and we should have a Dharmika Parishad in every State. Justice Jois
Committee consisted of 15 members with three of them being sitting judges. Justice Jois
himself is an eminent Jurist and currently a Rajya Sabha member.
In summary the state of Andhra Pradesh can be proud to have enacted Act 33 of 2007 to
bring its Endowments Legislation very close to the recommendations of the C.P.
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission Report thus making it a model legislation for the entire
country. In this connection we would also like to point out that the Government of India
has a common Wakf Act for the entire country with the State Governments having the
power to constitute the State Level Wakf Boards. The State of Andhra Pradesh is also the
first state to have constituted a Wakf Board as per the provisions of the 1995 Wakf Act.
Similarly we think Act 30/87 as amended by Act 33 of 2007 and based on C.P.
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission Report can be the basis for the National Endowments Act
for Hindu Religious Institutions in the future as this is part of the Concurrent List Item
No 28 of the List-III of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. The Government of India
should work towards this noble goal so that Temples nationwide are uniformly
administered and such experimentation and mistakes such as the 30/87 legislation can be
avoided, thus protecting Hindu Temples all over the country.
At this stage it is necessary to mention that the entire scheme of distribution of legislative
powers under the present Indian Constitution is based on the Government of India Act
1935. Further so far as the Concurrent List is concerned, it is desirable to quote what the
Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms said, with reference to the
corresponding list, as contemplated in the proposals that led to Act of 1935 :-
[Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms (1934) pages 30-31, para 51 quoted
in Mr Justice E.S. Venkataramiah and P.M. Bakshi Indian Fedralism (1992) Pg 85 Para
7.13]
“Experience has shown, both in India and elsewhere, that there are certain matters
which cannot be allocated exclusively either to a central or to a Provincial legislature
and for which, though it is often desirable that provincial legislation should make
provision, it is equally necessary that the central legislature should also have a

45
legislative jurisdiction enable it, in somes cases to secure uniformity in the main
principles of law throughout the country, in others, to guide and encourage provincial
effort and in others, again, to provide remedies for mischief arising in the provincial
sphere, but extending, or liable to extend beyond the boundaries of a single province”.

The fact that the ill thought out Andhra Pradesh Endowments Act 30/87 based on the
biased Challah Kondiah Commission report, has lead to closure of thousands of temples
is indisputable, as the Government itself has acknowledged this in its Statement of
Objects and Reasons for amendment Act 33 of 2007. The Supreme Court 1996
judgement which upheld the provisions of the 30/87 Act was actually partially reviewed
in the 1997 judgement and the directions were completely ignored by the Andhra Pradesh
Endowments Department. Today the situation is that several other State Governments,
the Karnataka State to name one have adopted the 30/87 model legislation as the
Karnataka Religious Endowments Act 1997 (which fortunately was struck down by the
Karnataka High Court and lead to the constitution of Justice Rama Jois committee) but
slowly and surely the mischief is spreading beyond the boundaries of Andhra Pradesh.
Though the Andhra Pradesh Society has rectified its error by enacting the amendment
Act 33 of 2007 it was only after a prolonged agitation and after closure of thousands of
temples and even now the new amendments are unimplemented due to strong opposition
from the Endowments Department. It is pertinent to mention that Justice Challah
Kondiah Commission borrowed heavily from the Tamil Nadu Endowments Act and came
up with more stringent recommendations, the Tamil Nadu Endowments Act also has the
same inherent flaws and slowly the temples there are also being destroyed as well albeit
at a slower pace, since there is no strong Temple Protection Movement there it is not yet
come to light. It is likely that the temples in other states will suffer the same plight as the
provisions of the 30/87 Act is quite attractive at surface level but devastating when
actually implemented plus the Supreme Court judgement of 1996 whose review is still
pending gives it the legal cover. Therefore, this is a classic case for the Central
Government to step in and correct the mischief before it spreads throughout the country
like a virus causing widespread closure of our temples so that we can save lakhs of
temples from closure in our country. Based on the above quoted scenario mentioned in
the Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms it is imperative that the Central
Government step in and enact a common legislation and for this the Act 30/87 as
amended through Act 33 of 2007 can be the basis along with the recommendations of the
C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer Commission report. (The Book ―Legislation for Temple
Destruction‖ gives details about what happened in Tamil Nadu and the VAK Aug 2007
issue gives details on the Karnataka Chaos both of which are added to the references)
Also through VAK May 2008 Editorial we ensured that this becomes an election issue in
the State of Karnataka
“The Karnataka Endowments Act 1997 is a copy of the Draconian 30/87 A.P
Endowments Act which was amended by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in 2007.
Infact, this was a part of the Election Manifesto of the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh
in 2004 Elections.
The 30/87 Endowments Act has been successfully amended by the Government headed by
Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in 2007 and there by the Congress Government has kept its
election eve promise with regard to the Endowments Act providing greater autonomy to
smaller Temples for their survival and has taken steps to better the conditions of

46
Archakas and other employees. That is the reason why Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy‟s
popularity among people is immense now.
On behalf of the Temples Protection Movement we appealed to all the Political Parties in
Karnataka to include this important item in their Election Manifestos. It is heartening to
note that there is consensus about this issue among all the Political Parties. All the
parties including the Congress Party in Karnataka have promised to implement this issue
on a priority basis.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party was the only party which included this item in its Election
Manifesto and ironically even after the advice of the late Shri Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara
Reddy the Karnataka Congress Party inexplicably did not mention this item its Election
Manifesto. Eventually the BJP won the assembly elections in May 2008 with narrow
majority by making inroads into strong Congress bastions, because of this important item
in its manifesto. Unfortunately the Act is yet to amended in Karnataka even though over
two years have passed with the BJP Government being in power

9 Recommendations to the Hon‘ble Committee

It is our firm belief that the Temple System in the State of Andhra Pradesh is slowly
getting reformed and we are still in the very early stages of the implementation of Act 33
of 2007. It will take many years to undo the damage done to the Temple System and till
then the Andhra Pradesh Dharmika Parishad needs to be given a free reign. We also
strongly believe that once we atone for the past mistakes, the Andhra Pradesh society will
return to the path of Dharma and will enjoy an everlasting period of peace and prosperity
and for this, the Committee has to ensure continuity in the implementation of Act 33 of
2007, whatever be its recommendations on other terms of reference. If this is not ensured,
then based on the historical data alluded to in this memorandum and as per the ancient
Agamas, peace and prosperity will be an elusive goal for all the people of the state
whether they live in a unified state or in separate states. The following are our
recommendations:-
1. We recommend to the committee to ensure that the temples in the State of Andhra
Pradesh which are our spiritual wealth and to whom we are all emotionally
attached remain for all the people of the state and are continued to be
administered through the Dharmika Parishad irrespective of the recommendations
on other terms of reference.
2. We request the Hon‘ble Committee to recommend the quantum of compensation
to be given to the impoverished archaka families due to the non-implementation
of the directions of the Hon‘ble Supreme Court. In this connection we submit that
since the Amendment Act 33 of 2007 has been enacted on the basis of the
directions of the Hon‘ble Supreme Court amendments to Sec 34 , Sec 144 and Sec
17 be treated as retrospective so that the recommendations are legally binding and
the archaka families get suitable compensation. This will allow the Andhra
Pradesh Society to do prayaschittam for the sins committed against the archaka
families. Since the Endowments Legislations are in the concurrent list, the
Central Government was duty bound to prevent Temple laws which are
destructive from being enacted by the State Governments. They need to be
monitered by the Central Government. For this lapse the compensation needs to

47
be paid by the Government of India to the temples for reviving them. Therefore at
least Rs.1,000 crores should be credited to the Andhra Pradesh Archakas and
other Employees Welfare Fund.
3. We request that the Hon‘ble committee to recommend continuation of the recent
decision of the Andhra Pradesh Government to use the contributions from TTD to
the Common Good Fund for renovation and sustenance of rituals in thousands of
small temples through the Dhoopa Dheepa Naivedyam scheme as per the
recommendations of the Select Committee.
4. We request that the Hon‘ble Committee recommend in its report the quantum of
money that the TTD actually owes to the Archaka Welfare Fund given that even
today the entire corpus of 75 Crores that the Supreme Court had ordered in the
year 1997 has not been accumulated and in fact the TTD had backed off from the
earlier commitment to deposit the money. The 75 Crores needs to be inflation
adjusted and the actual quantum needs to be arrived at so that welfare activities
for Archakas can be taken up as envisaged by the Hon‘ble Supreme Court without
any dearth of funds.
5. We request the Committee to give suitable recommendations so that we can
bequeath a strong temple system to the future generations of our society and for
this it is imperative that the current Act 33 of 2007 becomes a success in the State
of Andhra Pradesh which can then become a role model for other states in our
country.
6. We request the Committee to recommend to the Government of India of the need
for a central legislation on Hindu Religious Institutions based on the C.P.
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission Report and also on Act 30/87 as amended by Act
33 of 2007.
7. Given that ours is a non-political and a Spiritual Organization who have followers
in all the regions of the State we do not have any recommendations to suggest on
the Term of Reference No (1) of the Committee except to say whatever people‘s
wish should be fulfilled.
In the event that the Committee gives the recommendation for a separate
Telangana State, we propose the following, as we would like the temples which
are the spiritual wealth of all the people of the State to continue to belong to
everyone. This is similar to the scenario where the material property is divided
between brothers of a family but the parents are still common to both and are
looked after jointly.

a. Make Act 30/87 as amended by Act 33 of 2007 a Central Act applicable to


both the states similar to the Wakf Act and also take the opportunity to
take a small step towards implementation of C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer
Commission Report. Slowly this central Act can be extended to more
States.
b. Invoking powers under Sec 152 of the Act all the powers of the
Government is transferred to the Dharmika Parishad. This ensures that the

48
State Endowments Commissioners function under the autonomous control
of the Dharmika Parishad. This is again in line with the C.P. Ramaswamy
Iyer Commission recommendations.
c. The Dharmika Parishad will be constituted by the President of India with
due representation from both the regions in consultation with the State
Governments as per the provisions of the Act.
d. Amendments to the Endowments Act if required will be done by the
Parliament only.
e. The TTD Board will be constituted by the Dharmika Parishad and will
function under its autonomous control.
f. The Chilkur temple also functions under the autonomous control of the
Dharmika Parishad and under the terms of G.O.Ms.No. 260.
g. The appeal of the decisions of the Tribunal constituted by the Dharmika
Parishad will be to the High Court of the State to which the temple
belongs (Telangana or Andhra) incase the Committee recommends
separate High Courts.
h. This formula will solve the Tirumala issue and also the Bhadrachalam
issue.

Conclusion :

We would urge the Committee which consists of legal luminaries and experts on
sociology and culture to ensure that the small temples of Andhra Pradesh which have
been destroyed due to the 30/87 draconian legislation are revived, and the
recommendations ensure their revival and also, all the temples continue to belong to the
people of entire state by giving serious weight to the above points. All along in this
comprehensive submission made by us, we have been tooth and nail against the
draconian 30/87 Endowments Legislation as it was forcefully, oppressively and
atrociously rubbed on the people of Telangana Region.
The 30/87 Legislation was the result of the copying of the Tamilnadu Endowments Act
which was enacted by the Athiestic, anti temple Dravidian party in power. For 21 years,
till the Amended Act 33/2007, the people of Andhra Pradesh were separated from their
temples by the State. The temples of Telangana Region lost their identity, their culture
and their unique traditions.
When Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956, the people of Telangana were assured that
their system of worship in Hindu Temples and their managements will not be disturbed.
In 1987, all of a sudden, this promise was forgotten and it was not mentioned at all in the
Challa Kondaiah Report. The Challa Kondaiah Commission did not mention the salient
features of the Hyderabad Endowments Legislation whereas the CP Ramaswamy Iyer
Commission appreciated it.
The recommendations, if implemented, will assuage the hurt feelings of the Telangana
people to a large extent. Unless the temples are revived, prayaschittam is done for past
sins towards Archaka families and rituals are protected we do not think there will be

49
lasting peace and prosperity for people of Andhra Pradesh whether they live in a unified
state or in separate states. This will be in accordance with the wishes and sentiments of
people of Telangana region. The 30/87 Endowments Legislation has hurt the Telangana
people very badly eventhough the people of the entire State of Andhra Pradesh have
suffered because of this draconian Legislation.
In this connection when Andhra State was formed by bifurcating the erstwhile Madras
State, the question of the status of Tirupathi and Madras became contentious issues. The
people of Andhra gave up their claim for Madras and preferred Tirupathi and this shows
the sentiment of the people in the Andhra part of Andhra Pradesh including that of
Rayalaseema towards the Temple system. This single important decision has ensured that
the God Consciousness is protected in the State of Andhra Pradesh as the people gave
importance to Spiritual wealth over Material wealth.
If the Sri Krishna Committee does not apply its mind on this important issue pertaining to
the temples the spiritual wealth of the State, the entire exercise would be nothing but
futile.
We also pray to the Almighty to guide the Committee in this important and delicate task
which will determine the course of the future for the people of the state of Andhra
Pradesh for years to come.

Thanking you, regards


Yours faithfully,

Dr. M.V. Soundara Rajan

Convenor

50
10 Appendix

S.No C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer Commission How it is Addressed in Andhra Pradesh


Recommendations Endowments Act 30/87 as amended by Act
33 of 2007
1 Recommendations 19-24. The Sec 152(1) The Government shall by
Commsssion Recommends a notification in Andhra Pradesh Gazette
National Level Tribunal having constitute the ‗Andhra Pradesh Dharmika
appellate jurisdiction and Parishad‘ for the state consisting of
Revisional Jurisdiction over State following members namely :-
Commissioners. It also specifies i. Minister for Endowments who shall
the matters in which this should be be Chairman.
a. Succession and appointment to
ii. Principal Secretary/Secretary to
hereditary offices such as
Government Revenue Department
hereditary trustees, heads of in charge of religious and
Mutts etc.
Charitable Institutions and
b. Determination of What are Endowments.
matters of religion or essential
iii. The Commissioner of Endowments
religious practices and what who shall be the member secretary
are ancillary or unessential
accretions iv. The Executive Officer, Tirumala
Tirupathi Devasthanams.
c. Such other matters of basic
importance in relation to the v. One representative each from the
conduct of management of Chairman of Boards of Trustees
temple and mutts as in their from section 6(a) (i) and (ii),
opinion demand adjudication sections 6(b)(ii), section 6(c)(i) and
or decision having regard at (ii) and two Mathadhipathis
the same time to such custom published under section 6(d) of the
usage or tradition as the Act.
tribunal may find to be vi. Retired Senior Officer of the
established Government who is a devout Hindu
The tribunal referred to above may and has experience of and
consist of five or more members commitment to improve the Hindu
who as Hindus by conviction and Temple system, to be nominated by
believe in Hindu scriptures and in the Government.
temple worship. Some vii. A retired senior officer of the
qualification may be laid down so endowments department
that the members include
1. A Judicial member who has viii. Retired judge of the High Court
been or is eligible for being who is a devout Hindu and has
appointed as a High Court commitment to improve the Hindu
Judge and who is to be its Temple System.

51
president. ix. A legal luminary/Advocate aged
2. A member who has held a more than 62 years who is a devout
Hindu and has experience and
senior administrative office
commitment to improve Hindu
under the Government and has
temple system.
had adequate administrative
and/or financial experience for x. Two prominent philanthropists who
not less than ten years in the have track record of establishment,
Government. maintenance and supporting various
3. A member who is specifically endowments, Charitable and Hindu
Religious institutions to be
conversant with Hindu
nominated by Government
scriptures and religion and
religious practices and with xi. Two Agama pundits to be
working of Hindu religious nominated by the Government
institutions.
xii. One Chartered Accountant who is a
The Tribunal should be devout Hindu and has commitment
empowered to consult as assessors to improve Hindu temple system to
such leaders of the denomination be nominated by the Government.
or sampradaya concerned and such
(2) The Parishad may for the purpose of
others as are generally recognized
consultation invite any person having
to be fit to give advice in matters experience and specialized knowledge in
pertaining to the sampradaya,
any subject under its consideration to
custom or usage coming up for
attend its meetings and every such person
decision before the Tribunal. Other shall be entitled to such allowances as may
persons or Organizations as may
be prescribed.
be specifically competent in this
(3) The powers, functions and term of
behalf may also be consulted. The office etc., of the members of the Andhra
Commissioner may be authorized
Pradesh Dharmika Parishad shall be such
to refer to the tribunal for its
as may be prescribed.
opinion or adjudication any matter (4) The Government may by order delegate
or question as to which he feels the
its powers to the Andhra Pradesh
necessity for such guidance.
Dharmika Parishad.

Sec 162 (1) Government may, for purpose


of this Act, constitute as many Tribunals as
it may think fit, for the determination of
any dispute, question or matter relating to a
Charitable Institution, Dharmadayam,
Religious Charity, Religious Endowments,
Religious Institution or any Institution as
defined in the Act and also define the local
limits and jurisdiction of such Tribunals.

Through the Sec 152 and Sec 162 of the


Act and the powers of the Dharmika
Parishad in Sec 15 (Constitution of Trust

52
Boards), Sec 51-Sec 54 (Relating to
Mutts), Sec 144 (Formulation of scheme),
Sec 87 ( Enquiry by Tribunal) the
substantive recommendations of the C.P.
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission Report is
implemented.
2 (19)… This power of removal will The Powers of Dharmika Parishad under
not vest in the Commissioner in Sec 51-54 Matters relating to
the case of mathadhipathis (but administration of Mutt viz, removal of
only the power to suspend). Such mattadhipathi (Sec 51), dealing with
powers of removal should be the temporary vacancy in the office of
exclusive jurisdiction of the mattadhipathi (Sec 52), dealing with
Tribunal. In the case of temple permanent vacancy in the office of
trustees, Dharmakartas and other mattadhipathi (Sec 53), nomination of
functionaries the power vested in mattadhipathi (Sec 54), power to frame
the Commissioner may be on the scheme to administer Mutt ( Sec 55) and
lines of those laid down in the the Tribunal under Sec 87 address these
Madras and Andhra Legislation on Sec 87(1)
the subject. (a) Whether and institution or endowments
(39). So far as succession to is a charitable institution or
headship of mutts and temples is endowments
concerned, each institution should (b) Whether an institution or endowment is
be allowed to follow its own a religious institution or endowment
prevailing custom, usage or
tradition where it is clearly (c) Whether any property is an endowment
established. if so whether it is a charitable
(41) Matters like claims to endowment or religious endowment
hereditary trusteeship and other (d) Whether any property is a specific
similar offices in temples, endowment
succession to headship of Mutts
and determination of the suitability (e) Whether any person is entitled by
of persons who succeed to custom or otherwise to any honor,
headship of mutts with reference emoluments, perquisites in any
to their qualifications should charitable or religious institution or
incase of dispute be decided by a endowment and what the established
statutory tribunal to be setup for usage of such institution or endowment
the purpose. is in regard to any other matter.
(42) The Hindu Succession Act, (f) Whether any institution or endowment
1956 should not be made is wholly or partly secular or religious
applicable to succession to character and whether any property is
headship of religious foundations. given wholly or partly for secular or
(43) The Hindu Succession Act, religious uses or
1956 may be amended to make it
clear that the property acquired by (g) Where any property or money has been
and belonging to a sanyasin would given for support of an institution or
not pass to his blood relations in endowment which is partly of a secular
character and partly of a religious

53
poorvashrama family. Similarly a character or the performance of any
sanyasin who has severed service or charity connected with such
connection with his natural family institution or endowment or the
should have no claims to property performance of a charity which is
of an nonsanyasin who was related partly of a secular character and partly
to him by blood in poorvashrama of a religious character or where any
days. property or money given is
appropriated partly to secular uses and
partly to religious uses, as to what
portion of such property or money shall
be allocated to secular or religious uses.
(h) Whether a person is a founder or a
member of the family of founder of an
Institution or Endowment.

(44) Hindu Temples may with Sec 65-A Creation of Fund for the purpose
advantage pool resources and of payment of salaries and other
undertake the work of repair and emoluments to all such Archakas, office
renovation on the lines on which holders and servants of charitable and
this work is being done by the Jain Hindu Religious Institutions and
community Endowments.
(46) Tribunals contemplated by Sec 70 Creation of Common Good Fund
the Commission after consultation The amendment by Act 33 of 2007 has
with the persons should be following proviso under the section
empowered to divert the surplus Dhoopa Dheepa Naivedhyam which
funds of a particular kshetra to encompasses renovation, preservation and
finance a deficit trust so as to be maintenance including payment of salaries
utilized for identical purposes… to Archakas of Hindu Charitable and
(33) A common good fund should Hindu Religious Institutions or
be constituted with the aid of the Endowments which are in needy
compulsory contribution of a circumstances and promotion and
certain percentage of incomes of propagation of purpose and objects
temples with a specified minimum connected therewith :
income on the lines provided in Provided that the amount to be unutilized
the Madras Hindu Religious and for the above purpose shall not be less than
Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 twenty five percent of the receipts to the
and money utilized on a planned said fund during the preceding year.
basis for repair and renovation
work pertaining to poorer temples
with small or no income or other
resources and which are falling
into ruin. This pooling of
resources may be either for the
whole state or region(s) in the state

54
or for a group of temples within
the fold of a particular smapradaya
as may be found expedient.
3 (9) Provision should be made for Sec 34(3) of the Act
prescribing minimum “(3) Notwithstanding anything contained
qualifications for archakas to in sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section,
perform archana or puja in the qualified members of those Archaka
temples. We recommend that such families which were continuing in
qualifications may subject to Archakatvam service under the provisions
suitable modifications in view of of the repealed Andhra Pradesh Charitable
local conditions be (a) a working and Hindu Religious Institutions and
knowledge of Sanskrit (b) a good Endowments Act, 1966 and recognized as
knowledge of mantras, agamas, such by the competent authority shall
rituals and modes of worship of continue to have the right to archakatvam
the sampradaya concerned and (c) without having any right to emoluments
knowledge of the sthalapurana and such families used to receive earlier under
traditions of the institution to Act 17 of 1966. However they shall receive
which they are attached or may be emoluments in accordance with the scheme
attached. under Sec 144.”
They should in addition be Corrects the historical blunder made in
proficient in the regional 1987 and as recommended by C.P.
languages so as to enable them to Ramaswamy Iyer Commission protects the
explain the meaning and right to archakatvam of hereditary archaka
significance of mantras and family members.
archanas to piligrims, devotees and The amendment clearly specifies that the
worshippers. Further they should right is recognized only when the person
possess a good moral character belonging to the hereditary archaka family
and basic learning so as to inspire obtains the necessary qualifications.
reverence in worshippers. It also simultaneously makes it clear that
(10) Hereditary rights of they do not have any right to emoluments
succession wherever archakas and again as specified by the Commission
pujaris enjoy such rights need not report. There is no need to amend the
be abolished. However, every Constitution here as the Supreme Court
archakas whether hereditary or judgment of 1996 makes it clear that this is
non-hereditary should be required a secular part and not an essential and
to undergo some minimum tests of integral part of religion.
fitness and should qualify himself For Small temples with income less than
to perform his duties efficiently Rs 5 Lakhs the Supreme Court suggested
and properly. If the hereditary to exempt them from the provisions of Sec
archakas are not so qualified they 144 of the Act thus restoring the
may be required to appoint emoluments as before for the archakas
qualified deputies in their places belonging to these temples. This has been
until they or their descendants done through the amendment to Sec 144
qualify themselves .In the matter Further Sec 144 was amended based on the
of appointments first preference recommendations of the select committee
should be given to qualified “The Select Committee deliberated upon

55
persons who have a hereditary the amendment to Section 144 which is
right. intended to improve the financial status of
(11) As already indicated the low-income temples. The archakas and
archakas, pujaries etc should not other office holders working in this temple
be allowed to have proprietary would have an option to either take a share
right to any part of the offerings of the temple income or take the salaries
made before the deity. They wherever they find that they are not able to
should also not enjoy any make a living from the lands or the
proprietary right of custody of the offerings given by the devotees.
jewels and other valuable articles Accordingly, the amendment as proposed
belonging to the temple. If was approved as this is in conformity with
necessary the Constitution should the observations of the Supreme Court, is
amended to make this point clear. in consonance with the objectives of the
(12) It is absolutely essential that Government to augment income levels of
the archakas and pujaries should small temples and gives an option to
be ensured a minimum living wage archakas and other office holders and
and their emoluments fixed in servants to opt for a scheme that is more
suitable grades for various beneficial to them. The power to approve
categories in order that they may schemes where there are special
not resort to beggary or extortion. circumstances necessitating such a
They should also be allowed the formulation is being given to the Dharmika
benefit of provident fund and Parishad.”
pension at least in case of big Based on this the following proviso was
temples which can afford the added to Sec 144 of the Act
same. The facility of free “Provided further that notwithstanding
residence near the temple should anything contained in this section, the
be provided as far as practicable. Commissioner shall be competent to frame
The minimum emoluments given a separate scheme in case of such
in case of archakas in small institutions where he satisfies himself for
temples should be at least at Rs 60 the reasons recorded in writing that
p.m in addition to dearness framing of such a scheme is necessary
allowance and other allowances stipulating the conditions of service and
admissible to persons in payment of emoluments to the Archakas,
Government service in the office holders and servants of the
corresponding grades in State institution. Such a scheme shall come into
service. force only after approval of the Dharmika
In cases where temples are out of Parishad”
their own resources unable to Further through Sec 65-A and Sec 70
afford such payments, the pooling Funds have been setup to provide the
system already adverted to in salaries to the Archakas as part of the
respect of income of temples of above scheme.
the same sampradaya should be Further the Archaka Welfare Fund has also
resorted to. been given Statutory effect through which
welfare activities are to be taken up.
For big temple archakas already the
salaries as per scales are being paid.

56
Thus the overall amendments are in line
with the recommendations of the C.P.
Ramaswamy Iyer Commission Report.

4 (79) In addition to our Sec 15, Sec 16 , Sec 17, Sec 18, Sec 19,
recommendation for the Sec 20 of the Act allows the
amendment of Constitution, the Government/Dharmika Parishad to
Constitution may also be amended constitute a trust board for any temple
to elucidate the following points which is mismanaged by the hereditary
(a) That temples, mutts and other trustee and further specifies the
institutions to which public resort composition of the trust board,
as of right and/or by tradition or qualification/disqualification of the trustees
custom for purpose of worship or etc.
religious training or discharging There is no need for an amendment of the
vows and/or institutions that Constitution as the Supreme Court in
accept gifts, donations and Pannalal Pitti judgment has already upheld
offerings from the members of the the constitutional validity of the above
public without right to refuse such provisions and the ratio is as enunciated in
offering should be treated as Ashok Kumar vs State of UP [1997] 5 SCC
public trusts in the sense that the 201 judgment
public or section thereof are
interested in and have a right to “In Pannalal Bansilal Pitti v. State of
enforce their proper administration Andhra Pradesh [(1996) 2 SCC 498], this
and management. The special Court, instead of declaring that abolition
provision of the matadhipathi as of hereditary trusteeship of the founder of
different from a bare trustee has the temple to manage a temple was
already been dealt with. unconstitutional, declared the law reading
(b) The fact that the management it down that the institutions would be
of the temple or the mutt is in the managed by a Committee of the non-
hands of persons or groups hereditary and hereditary trustees
historically connected with presided over by the hereditary trustees
foundations of the institution or in so as to be conducive to proper and
the hands of persons who claim to efficient management of the endowment or
have acquired proprietary or other institutions. At the same time, this Court
vested interests in the image or the upheld the power to remove hereditary
temple associated with an image trustees who mismanaged the endowment
can make no difference with or committee for acts of misfeasance or
regards to the essential character malfeasance, as valid”
of the institution
(29) The appointment of trustees
their selection or election, their
administration in regard to
religious matters and the power
vested in them to use the funds of
the trust with a view to furthering

57
the objects of the trust may be
regulated in accordance with the
general and local custom and
usage and in consultation
wherever practicable with
accredited and reputable
representative of the sampradaya
concerned and others who may be
specifically qualified to advice on
Hindu religion and religious
practices. There should be
however adequate provisions so as
to enable the authorities to
interfere effectively whenever
found that above objectives and
purposes are not duly carried out
or frustrated.

58
12 References

1. ―Legislation For Temple Destruction‖ by Prof M.V Soundararajan


2. ―Postmortem of the Failed Andhra Pradesh Experiment in Temple Reform‖ by Prof M.V.
Soundararajan
3. ―Hereditary Archakatvam a Duty Not a Right‖ by Prof M.V. Soundararajan
4. ―Chilkuru Thirugubattu‖ by C.S. Rangarajan
5. Statement of Objects and Reasons part of Bill 7/2007 which eventually became Act 33 of 2007
6. Report of the Andhra Pradesh Select Committee
7. Act 33 of 2007
8. G.O.Ms.No. 260

59