Travancore royal family’s rights in Padmanabhaswamy temple affairs upheld

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the affairs of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram.

A bench headed by U.U. Lalit said the administrative committee will manage the temple affairs while the district judge of Thiruvanathpuram will be the chairperson of the committee.

According to a lawyer associated with the matter said the shebaitship survives on the death of the ruler as per custom, and a committee under the chairmanship of district judge, who was the executive officer appointed by the apex court, has been constituted.

“Death of ruler does not result in escheat in favour of government despite 26th amendment of Constitution,” said the lawyer, who represented the devotees.

The apex court verdict has come on a dispute over management of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, one of the richest temples in the country. For nearly nine years, the issues in connection with the administration and management of the historic temple have been pending in the top court.

These issues were raised following alleged charges of financial irregularities. In April last year, a bench of Justices Lalit and Indu Malhotra had reserved the verdict on the petitions challenging the January 31, 2011 verdict of the Kerala High Court.

The high court had directed the state government to take steps to constitute a trust or a body to take control of the temple, its assets and management. The High Court also directed the state government to run the temple complying with the traditions.

In May 2011, the top court had stayed the high court’s direction.