The Supreme Court upheld the right of the Travancore royal family in administration of historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala on Monday. The Apex Court entrusted the responsibility of managing affairs of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple to the district judge of Tiruvananthapuram who will head an administrative committee that will oversee the affairs.
The court set aside Jan 31, 2011 verdict of Kerala HC which had asked the state government to set up a trust to take control of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple.
The controversy over the administration and management of the historic temple has been pending in the apex court for the last nine years in the wake of charges of alleged financial irregularities.
The sprawling temple, an architectural splendor in granite, was rebuilt in its present form in the 18th century by the Travancore Royal House which had ruled southern Kerala and some adjoining parts of Tamil Nadu before integration of the princely state with the Indian Union in 1947.
Even after India’s independence, the temple continued to be governed by a trust controlled by the erstwhile royal family for whom Lord Padmanabha (Vishnu) is their family deity.
A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Indu Malhotra had on April 10 last year reserved its judgment on the pleas challenging the January 31, 2011 verdict of the Kerala High Court in the matter.
The high court had directed the state government to take steps to set up a body or trust to take control of the temple, its assets, and management and to run the temple in accordance with the traditions.
The apex court had on May 2, 2011, stayed the high court’s direction regarding taking over the assets and management of the temple.
The top court had also directed that there shall be a detailed inventory of the articles, valuables, ornaments in Kallaras (vaults)
On July 8, 2011, the apex court had said that “opening of kallara ‘B’ is to be kept in abeyance till further orders”.
In July 2017, the apex court had said it would examine the claims that one of the vaults the temple contained extraordinary treasure with “mystical” energy.
It had passed a slew of directions including on the security of the treasures, auditing of accounts, and repair of the deity.
The top court was in July 2017 told by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, that ‘Kallara’ (vault) B of the temple should be opened as it was closed “on the apprehension that there is some mystical energy”.
The court had also appointed former apex court judge Justice K S P Radhakrishnan as chairperson of the selection committee which was constituted for works, including in the Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum).