Supreme Court entrusts Padmanabhaswamy temple to five-member committee
The Supreme Court Thursday entrusted the administration of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala to a five-member committee headed by the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram.
The court also said the keys of the temple vault holding its treasure would be handed over to the district judge.
The bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice A.K. Patnaik said former comptroller and auditor general (CAG) Vinod Rai would undertake the audit of the temple accounts and properties.
The court's interim order on the administration of the temple came on the recommendations of amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam, who had sought overhauling of the functioning of the temple.
Before passing the order, the court took on board counsel K.K. Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General K.V. Vishwanathan representing the royal family and the Kerala government, respectively.
The court also appointed senior Indian Administrative Service officer and former administrator of the Guruvayur temple Satish Kumar as the executive officer of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
After appointing Satish Kumar, the court said the incumbent executive officer and administrative officer would proceed on a four-month leave.
The court said none of the properties of the temple would be alienated or dealt with.
The five-member committee will comprise the Thiruvananthapuram district judge, a tantri and chief nambi of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple and two more members, of which one will be appointed in consultation with the state government.
If the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram is not a Hindu, then the seniormost judicial officer in the city would step in as head of the administration committee, the court said.
The court also said the royal family, which is the trustee of the temple, would not be held liable for any fallout of the decisions taken by the administration committee.
However, in an important matter where the trustee would be consulted and his concurrence obtained, he would be liable for the outcome of such decisions.
The administrative committee would address all issues covered in the recommendations of the amicus curiae, including the cleanliness of the temple and the lodging of police personnel posted to guard the temple.
The recommendation by the amicus curiae on the reconstitution of the expert committee was deferred for a later date as Venugopal resisted the recommendation and sought a full hearing of the proposal.
The court ordered that donations by devotees would be counted every Saturday in the presence of the district Judge and the manager of the bank where it would be deposited.
The donations are at present counted once in 45 days.
Venugopal was at the receiving end of a verbal lashing by the court when he resisted the removal of the incumbent executive officer after the court asked him if he was satisfied that things (in the temple) were in good shape.
As Venugopal answered "Not at all", Justice Patnaik said: "You appointed the executive officers. They have failed and can't stay."
(Posted on 24-04-2014)