In picture an emotional Prince Aditya Varma of the Travancore Royal house after the verdict
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, one of the world’s richest temples, in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram.
Allowing the appeal filed by members of the Travancore family, the apex court observed that the death of the Travancore ruler, who signed the covenant, does not affect the rights of the Shebaitship Travancore family over the temple and it will survive as per the customs.
A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit, as an interim arrangement, approved a committee under Thiruvananthapuram District Judge to oversee the administration to manage the affairs of the temple till the constitution of a new committee.
The last ruler of Travancore, until his death on July 20, 1991, continued to manage the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple by virtue of powers conferred on him. The issue had reached the court in the wake of charges of alleged financial irregularities.
The top court’s judgement came on a batch of petitions challenging a Kerala High Court’s order dated January 31, 2011, which 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.
However, the apex court had on May 2, 2011, stayed the High Court’s order on the same.
The apex court had also directed the Kerala government for preparation of an inventory of articles, valuables, ornaments, precious stones in the Kallara (vault) A to F, but had later clarified that vault B would not be opened without express orders of the Supreme Court.
In 2011, a team mandated by the Supreme Court opened five other vaults and inventory unveiled a wealth of Rs 1 lakh crore in the form of jewellery, idols, weapons, utensils, and coins.
The century-old Vishnu temple was traditionally managed by the temple’s heirs, former Travancore ruler Marthanda Varma, for more than 1000 years.