Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has ruled that there is no need for Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to submit a declaration on his religion during his visit to the Lord Venkateswara temple of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
“The Chief Minister visited the temple in his official capacity to perform the ritual of presenting silk robes,” the court noted, and it struck down the quo warranto petition filed before it on this issue. The petition lacked maintainability, a division bench of Justice B. Devanand said.
The court said that as the CM went to the temple to present silk robes as a tradition during conduct of the Brahmotsavams in the capacity of the CM and also as a public representative. There was no need for him to sign a declaration of faith, which might otherwise be required for visits to the temple as per the norms of the Endowments Act.
The court said that the stand would be different in case of the CM being a non-Hindu and intending to visit the temple in his individual capacity to take darshan and offer prayers. If so, he was expected to sign the declaration as per the existing norms, the court said.
The court said that the petitioner failed to submit evidence that the Chief Minister is a Christian or practising the Christian religion. The CM visiting church to offer prayers and attending Christian meetings could not be stretched to mean that he is Christian, the court said.
The petitioner stated that the CM attended Christian meetings and offered prayers in church and hence he should be considered a Christian. This, the court said, did not hold good. On the same ground, can it also be argued that the CM practised Sikhism just because he visited a gurudwara in Vijayawada recently and offered prayers.
The court said if a person is known after a name found in the Bible, attended a Christian meeting, read the Holy Bible and kept the Cross in his house, all these cannot be construed to mean he’s a Christian.
The court noted that the TTD had been following a tradition for long wherein the CM would present silk robes to Lord Venkateswara. The TTD board would invite the CM to do so. Whoever is in the position of the CM, such a person would thus have to visit the temple and follow the rituals, the court stressed.
On petitioner’s contention that Indira Gandhi and Abdul Kalam submitted the declaration of their faith during their visits to the Lord Venkateswara temple, the judge pointed out that they visited the temple only to take darshan and offer prayers.