SC foils Kerala govt. attempt to control Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
In a judgment which would please millions of Hindu devotees, the Supreme Court today ruled that the historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram would stay under the control of its original owners, the Travancore royal family, and the Kerala government which was trying to bring the temple under its control, would have to stay out.
The verdict by a two-member Supreme Court bench, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice UU Lalit, passed the verdict that the death of the king of the Travancore family doesn’t end the rights of the family over the temple, believed to be the richest in the world.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the temple would be managed by Hindus only.
In 2011, the Kerala High Court had granted the power to the state government to take the temple under its wings, as well as its management and assets. It had also asked the state government to form a trust and take control of the temple within three months.
In accordance with that order, its vaults were opened and vast amounts of treasures were discovered. The broad estimate of this treasure was said to be Rs 90,000 crores.
The royal family challenged the High Court orders in September 2011. The Supreme Court had then asked the Kerala government not to open the vaults till they pass the final judgment.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government has stated it would abide by the decision of the Supreme Court.
The historic temple has all along been managed by the Travancore royal family. At one time this dynasty had ruled southern Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. Lord Padmanabha (Vishnu) is the family deity of the royal family.
The Kerala government has been asked to open all vaults and count its inventory, as well as create a museum of the temple’s treasures.
The royal family had controlled the temple until April 2014.
The legal basis of the royal family’s assertion is the Accession Agreement signed between the King of Travancore with the Government of India in 1949 by which the princely state of Travancore became a part of India.
Article VII of the agreement outlined that the administration of the temple shall be conducted, subject to the control and supervision of the ruler of Travancore by an executive officer appointed by the ruler.
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