By SM.13 Jul, 2020
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the rights of the former royal family in running the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, setting aside the 2011 verdict of the Kerala High Court that directed the state government to take control of the historic temple in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
The court also left it to the former royal family of Travancore to decide the opening of a secret vault, B Vault, that has been shut for years. The royal family argues that the opening of the secret vault called Kallara in Malayalam will bring misfortune because it will invite divine wrath.
A two judge bench headed by Justice UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra also ordered that the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram will head an administrative committee to manage the affairs of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple till a final committee is constituted by the toyal family.
"Existing committee appointed by Supreme Court in 2011 will continue as an interim arrangement till final committee is constituted. Royal family will constitute the final committee. Opening of the Kalavara will be decided by the final committee of roayl family as per traditions" the court ruled.
"Don"t consider this as a victory of the royal family. We are perceiving this as a blessing by lord Padmanabha to all his devotees. We express our gratitude to everyone who was going through the pain and hardships," said the royal family soon after the judgement.
The Kerala government also welcomed the judgement.
The sprawling temple, an architectural splendour 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.
The temple was under the control of a trust headed by the royal family until April 2014 when the top court handed over its management to a four-member administrative committee headed by a district judge.
While five of the six chambers inside the temple had been opened and inventories made by a court-appointed team, the B Vault has been shut for years. The former royal family of Travancore, which used to head a trust that managed the temple, argues that opening the vault will bring misfortune because of a mythical curse.
What does the Supreme Court verdict pertain to
The controversy over the administration and management of the historic temple has been pending in the apex court for last nine years.
In the wake of charges of alleged financial irregularities, the case in the Supreme Court pertains to who should get the ownership, control and management of the temple trust—the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, or a Devaswom board controlled by Kerala government.
In addition to the management rights of the temple trust, another issue that the Supreme Court is expected to settle is if the vault B (second vault out of six) of the temple should be opened. These vaults are called Kallaras in Malayalam which are rooms full of treasure.
The Kerala High Court in its verdict on January 31, 2011 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.
However, the Supreme Court had on May 2, 2011 stayed the High Court"s direction. The same day it had also directed that there shall be a detailed inventory of the articles, valuables , ornaments in Kallaras (vaults) A to F, but had later clarfied that kallara B would not be opened without express orders of the apex court. SC had said it would examine the claims that vault B contained extraordinary treasure with "mystical" energy.
The Supreme Court had appointed a selection committee headed by former SC judge KSP Radhakrishnan for selection of personnel who would prepare the inventory and repair of the sanctum sanctorum (Sreekovil) of the temple. Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium was appointed amicus curiae for streamlining the activities inside the temple premises.