While former minister G Janardana Reddy is cooling his heels in jail, the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams is facing a different problem. Irked after Janardana was arrested by the CBI on charges of illegal mining yesterday, devotees are urging the trust to return 30 kg diamond-studded crown worth Rs 45 crore donated by him in 2009.
The trust however, is not in a position to meet their demands as rules do not permit doing so. Legal experts said that the Indian Trust Act won't allow gifts to be returned to donors, but it can be donated to any other party.
The demand came after devotees felt that the crown desecrates the sanctity of the deity as the donor is facing criminal charges. "Tirupathi is one such shrine where everyone including criminals are allowed to make contributions, and the trust can discriminate on the basis of these issues," said Adikeshavalu Naidu, who was the chairman of the trust when the crown was donated.
"The trust can understand the sentiments of devotees, but the crown cannot be returned to the donor," he added. He said the donation was legal and Janardana had produced all legal ownership documents at the time.