Andhra HC halts scrapping of VIP darshan in Tirupati

Andhra HC halts scrapping of VIP darshan in Tirupati

New chairman of TTD Y V Subba Reddy

The proposed move to do away with the three-category VIP darshan of Lord Sri Venkateswara in Tirumala by Y S Subba Reddy, incumbent chairman of Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) board and maternal uncle of chief minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy seems to have hit a roadblock.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday refused to take cognisance of the TTD Board chairman's announcement and wanted the counsel of TTD to submit a government order scrapping the VIP darshans. The HC directed the TTD to come up with a counter for the next hearing on Thursday.

Several petitioners had questioned the move of the TTD suspecting yet another kind of VIP darshan in the name of Protocol Darshan by the YSRCP government. Y V Subba Reddy who replaced Putta Sudhakar Yadav of TDP after the TDP lost the elections, declared the present system of L1, L2 and L3 type of VIP darshans void in a press conference and wanted the VIPs to limit to one darshan per year.

However, the petitioners argued that a mere announcement cannot consider as a government. The high court, agreeing to this argument, said that the decision of the chairman in the absence of a TTD board can’t be considered as an official order. The board appointed by the former government submitted resignations after the new government took over and a new board is yet to be constituted.

The VIP darshan system was introduced when Srinivasa Raju was the joint executive officer (JEO). The L1 category tickets were allocated to the protocol officials and the other two categories were meant for lesser and lesser important persons. However, the TTD benefitted from the proceedings of the system where tickets were fixed at Rs 500.

The new JEO Dharma Reddy is known for novel methods of crowd management, who arranged for Maha-laghu and laghu systems of darshan at the time of heavy rush of pilgrims. Dharma Reddy during his first tenure used to allocate VIP darshan tokens based on discretion. However, there were several cases of fraudulent recommendation letters and fake identities that put the VIP darshan system into trouble.