Gold plating of world`s richest temple shelved, SC told
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 22:04
New Delhi: Tirumala Tirupati Devesthanam (TTD) on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it has shelved the controversial decision on gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati, the world's richest temple.

The decision to reconsider the move was taken in deference to the sentiments expressed by thousands of devotees and the Andhra Pradesh High Court's judgement quashing the earlier resolution passed by the TTD for the gold plating exercise, the board told the apex court.

The TTD said it had no powers to carry out the exercise of drilling thousands of holes in the inner recess adorning the deities in view of the restrictions imposed by Section 2(a) of the Ancient Monuments and Archeolgoical Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

By a resolution dated September 20,2008, the TTD decided to carry out gold plating of the temple's sanctum sanctorum, which was fiercely opposed by several devotees on the ground that it was not only against scriptural tenets but posed a grave threat to the 11th century shrine.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, which recorded the undertaking made by counsel Sridhar Potaraju, directed the Board not to take any decision on gold plating without prior permission of the apex court.

The bench passed the order after former Union Minister and Janata Party leader Dr Subramaniam Swamy moved an application for restraining the TTD from carrying out the exercise during the ongoing summer season.

Swamy expressed apprehension that the TTD was embarking upon the exercise of gold plating by taking advantage of the stay imposed on February 28 by the apex court on the high court judgement.

However, the TTD counsel submitted that on January 20, the board decided against proceeding with the gold plating move in view of adverse reaction from devotees and the high court's decision to quash the September 20, 2008.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, TTD's Executive Officer I Y R Krishna Rao submitted "the inscriptions delineated on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum and the Vimana Prakara are undisputedly fit in the definition of 'Ancient Monuments defined in Sect 2(a) of the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and that the inscriptions on the walls of the temple are inseparable with the sanctum sanctorum and hence gold plating a religious activity does not come within the purview of the powers of the Board described in Section 97 of the Endowments Act.

"And that gold plating if any done for ornamental purpose will certainly deface the inscriptions and cause serious threat to the ancient monuments apart from causing damage to the structures and stones because of the drilling of thousands of holes for driving nails to fix up the copper sheet on the surface of the walls," the affidavit stated.

The TTD also told the court that it has decided to refund Rs 12 crore cash and over 94 kg of gold received from devotees for the gold plating exercise. But an option was also given to the devotees that if they so desire the donations made would be utilised for other activities pertaining to the temple.


First Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 22:04

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