VISAKHAPATNAM: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has struck down appointment of Sanchaita Gajapati Raju as chairperson of Maharaja Alak Narayan Society of Arts and Science (Mansas) and Simhachalam temple trusts. Further, the court restored former minister and TD politburo member P. Ashok Gajapati Raju as chairman of both these trusts.
While cancelling GO No. 74 issued in March 2020 appointing Sanchaita Gajapathi Raju, High Court judge Justice N. Venkataramana upheld the appointment of Ashok Gajapati Raju made in 2016.
Urmila Gajapathi Raju, second daughter of Ananda Gajapati Raju who is the elder brother of Ashok Gajapati Raju, was nominated but disqualified as she was below 30 years of age. Sunita Prasad, sister of Ashok and Anand, did not take oath. It is mandatory to take oath within 30 days of the nomination. Sanchaita is the daughter of Anand Gajapati Raju.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju had filed two petitions in the High Court challenging the appointments made under GO 74. His counsel argued that elders should be trustees in their old age, as they are hereditary trustees. He thus contended that AP government’s appointment of chairpersons of these trusts had been against rules. The government, however, contended that the appointment was made in accordance with rules.
The High Court agreed with arguments submitted by Ashok Gajapati Raju and struck down the GO issued by the AP government.
Sanchaita had said that since her father Ananda Gajapathi Raju had been the chairman of 104 temples as a member of erstwhile royal Vizianagaram family, she urged that she should also be recognised as legal heir and family member.
“I am yet to see the copy of the High Court order. I am not the kind of woman to give up the fight so easily,’’ Sanchaita Gajapati Raju told Deccan Chronicle soon after the court order.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju told reporters in Vizianagaram that the decree proved that the Constitution and courts are still intact. “I have to check what all damages have been done to the temple during my absence,’’ Raju told reporters.
Meanwhile, sources said the state government has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the High Court orders. Endowments minister Vellampalli Srinivas met Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy soon after the court verdict and briefed him about the judgment. The CM reportedly advised Srinivas to appeal against the High Court orders in the apex court, sources added.