GHHF Board Member Renovated Surya Temple;  AP government Tooke over; High Court Issued STAY Order; Villagers fought and became Victorious

22 Mar 2023 465 Views

Global Hindu Heritage Foundation is extremely happy to appreciate the tireless and passionate effort to protect Sri Suryanarayana Temple in Budhagavi in Anantapur District from unlawful takeover the Temples from the villagers. Here is the brief history this unique Temple.

               Let us say KUDOS to Sri Kasibhatla Rama Sharma for protecting the Temple from YSRCP government.

  • Sri Kasibhatla Anantha Rama Sharma live in USA until about 2012.
  • He is one of the Board members of GHHF
  • Around 2010, he came to know about the 13th Century ancient Temple and decided to renovate it single handedly.
  • Villagers obtained No Objection Certificate from Department of Archeology and Museum. It is required to get this kind of certificate if the Temple is classified as ancient.
  • He spent nearly 1.5 crores to renovate the Temple in the village known as Budhagavi
  • The villagers registered a society named ‘Sree Surya Narayana Seva Samiti’ in 2011 with the sole objective of temple development and maintenance activities.
  • They have been operating and taking care of the Temple for about ten years attracting lakhs of people on Radha Saptami Day.
  • NOW, Politics entered and disrupted the community, created unrest and temple activities interrupted. Pure politics. Violated all the rules on the book.
  • Ruling Party YSRCP party member wrote a letter to Endowment Department to take over the Temple.
  • Assistant commissioner has written a letter to the villagers indicating the takeover of the management.
  • In fact, Endowment officials came and locked the Hundi denying villagers to have access to the funds.
  • No Temple with less than 5 lakh rupees income can be taken over by the government. Surya Temple income is about 2 lakhs.
  • Villagers organized Grama Sabha and unanimously opposed the takeover of the Temple.
  • Their efforts to settle the issues amicably failed.
  • On March 9, 2023, villagers went to AP High Court and request Stay Order.
  • Within 24 hours, AP High court issued STAY ORDER preventing the government to take over the Temple.

I want to mention the kind of mental stress our Sri Kasibhatla Rama Sharma went through to make sure that the Temple will remain in the hands of  the villagers. He used to travel 2-3 hours to go to village from Bengaluru almost every week to meet with the villagers to give confidence and assurance, He talked to various official securing the right kind of information to guide the villagers.

KUDOS to Sri Rama Sharma for his relentless fight with YSRCP government.

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                                       Please read the article published by NIJAM magazine

 

AP High Court suspends notice for takeover of ancient Temple by Endowments Dept; Allows villagers to maintain it

https://nijamtoday.com/en/2023/03/17/ap-hc-allows-villagers-to-maintain-temple/

Villagers have successfully retained the right to maintain their temple affairs by defeating the political motive under the garb of the Andhra Pradesh Endowment Department. In a significant move, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh issued interim orders suspending the AP Endowment Department’s notice to take over the ancient Suryanarayana Swamy mandir in Andhra Pradesh. This development occurred as the villagers of the Budhagavi Gram Panchayat of the Uravakonda Mandal, Anantapur District, challenged the move of the AP Endowments Department in the High Court.

As per the details, the Sri Suryanarayana Swamy Temple, situated in Budhagavi village, is an ancient temple dating back to the 13th Century and is said to have been constructed during the regime of the Chola Dynasty. Since then, the local devotees are involved in temple affairs. In March 2010, the villagers approached the Department of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and received the NOC (No Objection Certificate) to carry out some development and maintenance activities with their resources. Following this, the villagers registered a society named ‘Sree Surya Narayana Seva Samiti’ in 2011 with the sole objective of temple development and maintenance activities. Since then, organisers of Samiti regularly conducted several Dharmic rituals and annual ceremonies such as Ratha Saptami, Soura Homam on the auspicious Magha Pournami etc., with the financial assistance sponsored by one Shri Kasibhatla Anantha Rama Sharma.

As things were improving, a dispute arose when a ruling YSRCP party member of the village wrote a letter asking the AP Endowments department to take over the temple into their fold. Surprisingly, The Assistant Commissioner of the Ananthapuram District Endowments Department issued a notice saying that Surya Devalayam is being taken over. The villagers of Boodagavi strongly protested the political interference in the temple administration, which is being run voluntarily by the villagers with the financial help of the NRI donor.

In light of this, Boodagavi villagers held a special Gram Sabha on February 18, 2022 and passed a resolution stating that they will continue to maintain the Suryanarayana Swamy Temple under the ‘Sree Suryanarayana Swamy Seva Samiti’, and there shall be no interference from AP Endowments Department.

Villagers emphasised that it is their right to maintain their own village temple under article 26 of the constitution of India. The resolution copies of the Gram Sabha were sent to the Honorable President of India seeking orders to be issued to the Government of Andhra Pradesh to maintain the status quo regarding temple maintenance.

In the midst of this, the Endowments Department also conducted a Gram Sabha to know the pulse of villagers in taking over the temple. In this, villagers strongly opposed the temple takeover proposal. Ignoring this resistance and rejection, the Endowment’s department, against the wishes of villagers’ appointed an Executive Officer and started its operations in temple premises. Aggrieved by the act of the Endowments Department, the Budhagavi villagers approached the AP High Court and were successful in getting the suspension orders against the notice issued by the Assistant Commissioner for take over of the Surya Devalayam.

Contents of the Petition:Nijam Today has contacted the case petitioner, C. Chiranjeevi, representing the ‘Sree Suryanarayana Swamy Seva Samithi’. He filed a Writ Petition vide WP 5967 of 2023 challenging the order of the Assistant Commissioner of Endowments Department, Anantapur District, vide Memo No. AS/2826/2020, Adm dated 12.02.2021 appointing Executive Officer to Sri Suryanarayana Swamy Temple. Petitioner alleged that such an appointment was illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and contrary to Section 29 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987. He also stated that the said order issued by the Assistant Commissioner was not served on the petitioner and could be secured from the police officials on 08.01.2023 on the occasion of Radhasaptami. Petitioner also stated that the appointment of an Executive Officer by the Endowments Department to the Suryanarayana Swamy Temple is contrary to the judgement reported in 2001(6) ALD 315(DB), 2021 (5) ALD 170 (AP) and offends Articles 14, 25 & 26 of Constitution of India. He sought the honourable High Court to issue directions to respondents (officials of the Endowments department) not to interfere with the temple’s affairs.

Petitioner explained that Sri Kasibhatla Ananta Sharma, an NRI, has spent about 1.3 Crores for Temple development and administration with the help of the existing Temple Committee consisting of 11 Office Bearers and Executive Committee Members. After it developed from 2010-2011, there was a considerable increase in devotees and proportionate development, including shelters for visiting devotees, kitchen, etc. The Committee undertook Ratha Saptami on the eve of the auspicious Magha Suddha Saptami (Ratha Saptami) every year and also conducted AnnaDhanam (Free Food Service) for devotees during festivals. The administration process has been improved, and its affairs are peaceful.

The Petitioner mentioned that only the State Endowments Commissioner could pass orders appointing Executive Officers to the religious institutions but not the Assistant Commissioner under section 29 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987. He stated that there is no such delegation of power to the Assistant Commissioners. He pleaded to the High Court that the passed by the assistant commissioner’s order is liable to be set aside on the sole ground that the same is passed without jurisdiction and contrary to Sections 8 & 29 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987.

Petitioner stated that the Temple in their village is getting less than one lakh income per annum. There are two Archakas and two Sweepers working in the Temple. Being essential services, the income is hardly sufficient to maintain the staff members. He mentioned in his petition that under Section 29 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987, without prejudice to the above contentions, there is no competence to appoint Executive Officers for Temples having below 2 lakh income. Even otherwise, this Hon’ble Court has passed an order in a case reported in 2022 (3) ALD 617 (AP); temples with below 5 lakh income shall be exempted from the administration of the Endowments Department.

“Though there is a Committee exclusively registered and functioning for peaceful administration and rendering excellent service, the Endowments Department proposed to take over by a proceeding passed secretly. Such action of the Assistant Commissioner is highly objectionable, and it is nothing but an interference with the religious freedom worked under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India. The action of the Assistant Commissioner of Endowments Department in appointing an Executive Officer is not only without jurisdiction but also contrary to the statute and settled principles of Law laid down by this Hon’ble Court and Hon’ble Supreme Court, as such the same is liable to be set aside. It is also pertinent to state that the Authorities have sealed the Temple Hundi, due to which the committee cannot pay salaries to Archakas and other employees, ” said the petitioner.

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