Does the Tirumala Tirupati temple fall under the ambit of the RTI Act?
An application was filed with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) temple under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get information regarding how the huge crowd is managed by the temple, what kind of preparations are done and what kind of precautions are taken to avoid any man-made disasters.
In the reply to the application, the temple officials refused to furnish any information claiming that the temple doesn’t fall under the purview of the transparency act. Their response to the application states that as the TTD doesn’t fall within the definition of public authority as mentioned in Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, it is not bound to reply to RTI queries. This stand of the temple comes after it has already prepared RTI manuals and has nominated public information officers as envisaged in the RTI Act.
The State Information Commission, on the other hand, has said that the temple falls under the ambit of the Act. It contended that the TTD has misinterpreted Section 2(h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any- (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; of the RTI Act. The SIC said that though the temple is not constituted by the Government of India nor does it get financial support from the government, the government services provided to the temple like police force, subsidized food, etc., cannot be ignored.