A petition was today filed before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre and RBI to accept about Rs 8.29 crore in demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination offered by pilgrims at the temples run by a trust which also manages the affairs of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple of Andhra Pradesh.
The petition said that offerings made by the devotees to Lord Venkateswara Swami were not accepted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) due to which the demonetised currencies have been kept with it.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam oversees the operations and finances of the second richest and the most visited religious centre in the world.
The petition, drafted by advocate Sravan Kumar, also said that non-acceptance of pilgrims' money, which was received by the trust after December 30, 2016, at par with Non-Resident Indians, and district cooperative banks was "discriminative".
"Non-acceptance also means that pilgrims' wishes will not be fulfilled and such offerings will not be utilised for the service activities run by the Board and on the other hand keeping such a huge amount of money in demonetised currency by the Board is also an illegal act and punishable offence under the law," it said.
Petitioner V V Ramanamurthy, a journalist, has sought a direction to declare as "unconstitutional" the action of the Centre and RBI in not accepting the demonetised currency from the trust.
The plea has said that the government has been issuing orders from time to time modifying the demonetisation norms and allowing Indians living in foreign countries to deposit their money.
Besides NRIs, the government has also allowed district cooperative banks, post offices to deposit demonetised notes with the RBI, it said.
"By allowing NRIs and district cooperative banks to deposit old notes and not accepting public money meant for charity and service is not only discriminatory but infringes pilgrims' and devotees' right to practice and propagate religion and is clearly violative of fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 25 and 21 of the Constitution," the petition said.