Tirupati: In a significant decision taken by the Hyderabad High Court on Thursday and what could be seen as a rap on the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) Board which manages the richest temple in India, the Hyderabad High Court set aside TTD’s decision to fix the retirement age of hereditary archakas (priests) and mirasis at 65 years.
The primary contention before the court was whether the order dated June 27, 2018 issued by the TTD which stated that every hereditary family priest shall be less than 65 years to remain as archakas.
The court said that the TTD had no jurisdiction to pass such resolutions by comparing hereditary archakas and mirasis with other employees and there was no rule framed by the AP government regarding the age limit of these priests who have been employed since 2006.
The court also held that the TTD Hereditary Services Rules, 1956 which categorically says that archakas shall be less than 65 years do not apply to the aforementioned archakas, as the said rules ceased to exist with the enactment of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams Act 1979.
The court came to the conclusion that the TTD did not keep in mind these factors and erroneously decided on the age of superannuation by treating hereditary archakas as other employees.
Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao, in his verdict mentioned that the court did not find any merit in the contention of the Secretary, Endowments Department Andhra Pradesh and directed the TTD to immediately restore the services of the affected archakas as Sambhavana archakas in the temple and allow them to discharge their duties as long as they are physically fit.