ARCHAKAM PEDDINTI SRINIVASAMURTHY DIKSHITULU Vs. COMMISSIONER CHARITABLE AND HINDU RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS AND ENDOWMENTS IN ANDHRA PRADESH AT HYDERABAD
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
ARCHAKAM PEDDINTI SRINIVASAMURTHY DIKSHITULU
COMMISSIONER, CHARITABLE AND HINDU RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS AND ENDOWMENTS IN ANDHRA PRADESH AT HYDERABAD
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Vaidya, J. -
(1.) The petitioner is a hereditary Archakam Mirasidar of the Thirumalai Tirupati Devasthanams at Tirupati rendering Archakatwam service in the holy shrine of Lord Sri Venkateswaraswami Varu situate at Tirumalai Hills and all the shrines attached thereto and other temples situate at Tirupati and attached to the said Devasthanam. There are various rights, honours, emoluments and perquisites attached and due to the said hereditary Archaka Mirasidars, which they are entitled to as per long established custom and usage. The Archakatwam service in Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple is rendered by four families who belong to the Vaikhanasa school of Srivaishnavites. It is averred by the petitioner that the worship in the above said temple is according to the Vaikhanasa Agamas and can be rendered only by four families, the petitioner belonging to one of such families. The Archakatwam service is rendered by turns and the petitioners turn commenced on 24/09/1968 and continued for one full year. The main contention of the petitioner is that the religious rites especially those of worship of the diety, are according to the Vaikhanasa Agamas and in those Agamas, the Neivedyam that has to be offered to the diety at various times of worship and also at the various Utsavams of the diety have been specified in very great detail. Not only the kind of Neivedyam that has to be offered at the time of each worship and in each Utsavam has been specified but also the quantity of such Neivedyam and the quantity of ingredients of each of the item that is offered as Neivedyam has also been specified in Vaikhanasa Agama Sastras. According to the petitioner, the quantity of food offerings and also what are known as Pannyarams i.e., the fried offerings to Lord Venkateswara, have been offered according to the Vaikhanasa Agamas from time immemorial since the worship at the temple was first started. All these centuries the quantities of food offerings or the Pannyarams have not been reduced in quantity at ant time though the prices which a Grahastha has to pay at the time of such worship or the performance of various Utsavams and Arjitha Sevas have been increased from time to time. The Archaka Mirasidars along with other Mirasidars of the temple are entitled to a particular share in these food offerings and Pannyarams. The food offerings and Pannyarams are of two kinds; one offered by the Grahasthas who worship at the temple, perform the various Utsavams. The other food offerings and Pannyarams are by the Devasthanam itself. As already stated, the Archaka Mirasidars have a share in these food offerings and Pannyarams ; and in addition to that, they get certain cash benefits also at the time of the various Utsavams. The Archakas have to render service not only to the " Moolavar diety " but also to the " Utsavar diety " and also in the temples attached to the main shrine of Lord Venkateswara. About 10 or 12 years back, the duties of these Archakas were from 6-00 A. M. To 12-00 noon and from 6-00 P. M. To 9-00 P.M. But of late, their duties have vastly increased because of the duration the temple of Lord Venkateswara is kept open. The Darshan of Lord Venkateswara is given to those who perform the various Arjitha Sevas and Utsavams and also to those who do not pay anything. The second kind of Darshan is called " Dharma Darshan " and upto a few years back, the time for " Dharma Dharsan " is about 14 hours in a day without in any manner reducing the time earlier fixed for Arjitha Sevas. The result is that the temple remains closed hardly for about an hour or two during the 24 hours. The Archakas have to be present all the time during the hours the temple is open offering service to the pilgrims who attend the temple. In addition to this, they are given custody of the various jewels and vessels ( Upkarnas ) necessary for the pooja of the diety. All these jewels and vessels, the value of which sometimes runs into several thousands of rupees, have to be returned by the Archakas to the temple authorities after a particular Pooja for which they have been issued is performed. These services have to be rendered by the Archakas not only at the shrine of Lord Venkateswara but also at the shrines situated at Tirumalai, Tirupati and also at the shrine of Padmavathi Ammavaru at Tiruchannur. To render the services effectively, the Archakas have to engage and appoint a number of Gumasthas, who are well versed in the Vaikhanasa Agamas, to offer worship and also to perform the various Arjitha Sevas and Utsavams. Day by day it has become very difficult to find suitable Gumasthas especially those well-versed in Vaikhanasa Agamas to perform the service and unless these Gumasthas are paid handsome remuneration, they are not available. Thus they have to maintain a large establishment the expenditure of which is increasing day by day because of the present conditions obtaining in the country. The Archakas, therefore, in the year 1963 had made a representation to the temple authorities seeking enhancement in their emoluments and perquisites in view of the changed circumstances and high cost of living. It may be stated here that these Archakas Mirasidars had been granted inam lands for the performance of Archakatwam Service, but with the enforcement of the Inams Abolition Act, these inam lands were taken away and they were paid only a very meagre compensation. The Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments by his order in Rc. No. 3670/64 dated 27/10/1966, taking into consideration the view of the Board of Trustees of the Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanams dated 20/09/1966 accorded sanction for the increase of the cash emoluments to all the mirasidars by 50 per cent. By another order dated 11/12/1966, the said Commissioner permitted the Executive Officer of the Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanams to give effect to the enhancement of the emoluments from the date on which the Trust Board passed the resolution i.e., 22/10/1963. In spite of this, the increase has not been effectuated and the Mirasidars have not been paid the enhanced cash emoluments for the past six years.
(2.) In addition to the non-payment of the above said increased cash emoluments the Commissioner for Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments ( 1st respondent herein ) passed an order dated 25/02/1969 accepting the proposal of the Executive Officer to reduce the size of " Prokthupadi Laddu " intended for sale to pilgrims to half the present size and sell the same at Re. 1 /- each instead of Rs. 2.00-. It may be stated here that the " Prokthupadi Laddu " is one of the offerings made on behalf of the Devasthanams to Lord Venkateswara. The 1st respondent passed another order dated 5/04/1969 approving the proposal of the Executive Officer of the Devasthanam to reduce the quantities of the offerings by 50 per cent in respect of the following items : Sevas :-- 1. Kalyanotsavam. 2. Tiruppavada. 3. Dadhyodhanam. 4. Pulithora. 5. Pongal. 6. Chakkara Pongal. 7. Sakar Bath. 8. Payasam. 9. Seera. 10. Kesari Bath. Padis :-- 1. Laddu Padi. 2. Vada. 3. Poli. 4. Tentola. 5. Appam. 6. Zilebi. 7. Dosai. The Executive Officer was further informed in this order that it was not necessary to reduce the quantities in respect of (1) Sahasra Kalasabhisekam (2) Vasanthotsavam and (3) Sukheelu, since the institution did not incur any loss in respect of items (1) and (3) and the difference between the schedule rates and the present cost in respect of item (2) was not much. It is necessary to note that in both the aforesaid orders, the Executive Officer was directed to make necessary alterations in the Dittam Register accordingly.
(3.) As regards the order dated 25/02/1969, the petitioner having come to know of the proposal made by the Executive Officer, filed his objections before the Commissioner. As regards the second order dated 5/04/1969, the contention of the petitioner is that the said order was not given any publicity as stipulated in the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966 ( Andhra Pradesh Act No. 17 of 1966 ), hereinafter referred to as " the Act " and the rules made thereunder. It is the aforesaid two orders that are impugned in this writ petition and the relief the petitioner seeks is to quash the said orders and maintain the status quo ante.;
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