Ex-royal family can run Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple

The Supreme Court upheld the rights of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore in the management and administration of the centuries-old Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, one of the richest places of worship in the country.

It set aside the Kerala High Court’s order of 2011, which had directed the state government to set up a trust to take control of the Thiruvanthapuram temple’s management and assets. A bench of Justices UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra rejected the HC’s observation that the rights of the Travancore family to the temple ended with the death of the last ruler. The temple has been controlled by a trust run by the descendants of the erstwhile royal family since Independence.

A committee, comprising Hindus, constituted by the SC under the chairmanship of the district judge of Thiruvanthapuram will continue as the administrative head as an interim measure. The committee will take a call on opening the last of the temple’s six underground, secret vaults. In 2011, gold, jewels and statues worth around Rs 1 lakh-crore were unearthed from five vaults following an order from the SC based on a public interest litigation to assess the 16th century temple’s wealth. In July 2017, the SC had said it would examine claims that the last vault had been closed since it contained an “extraordinary treasure with mystical energy”.

The state government said it respected the ruling.

Four years after the treasures were found below the temple, gold worth Rs.186 crore was reported missing. A committee constituted by SC conducted a special audit and found large-scale financial irregularities in the temple.

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