The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday cancelled the appointment of Sanchaita Gajapati as the chairperson of the Simhachalam Devasthanam and Maharaja Alak Narayana Society of Arts and Science (MANSAS) trust. The development comes as a setback to the Andhra government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, as in March 2020, CM Jagan issued Government Order (GO) 74, and appointed Sanchaita Gajapathi, in the place of her uncle Ashok Gajapathi Raju, a TDP leader and chairman of the trust. The court was hearing a petition filed by Ashok Gajapathi Raju challenging his removal.
The trust is owned by the Vizianagaram royal family. It manages more than 100 temples including the Varahalakshmi Narasimha temple, which is one of the largest temples in the state.
As per reports, the government had argued that Sanchaita was appointed in a rotational manner, Ashok Gajapathi's counsel argued that only elders should be the trustees as both MANSAS and Simhachalam Devasthanam Board are Trusts.
The High Court scrapped the GOs and directed the reinstatement of Ashok Gajapathi as Simhachalam Devasthanam board and MANSAS trusts chairman. Ashok Gajapathi welcomed the HC's verdict and said that the court's verdict has proven that there are legislations and constitution in the country.
Read: 'Why can't a woman head temple trust?': Sanchaita Gajapati counters row over her appointment
Sanchaita is the daughter of Ashok's elder brother Ananda Gajapati Raju and Uma, the couple later divorced.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju has been chairman of the Trust following the death of his brother Ananada in 2016. While the Simhachalam Devasthanam manages more than 100 temples and Mansas trust runs 12 educational institutions in the state. Following her appointment, Sanchaita alleged that there was mismanagement and irregularities during her uncle's tenure leading to the loss to the trust.
Ashok Gajapati Raju claimed that he was removed from the post illegally without following any principles of natural justice.