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Gold vessels were taken out of Padmanabhaswamy: Auditor

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 - 7:25am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Gold vessels and silver ingots were taken out of B Nilavara (Bharathakone kallara) in the past, former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai said while auditing the Padmanabhaswamy temple accounts.

"It had been opened twice in the year 1990 (June 8 and July 9), five times during 2002 (March 9, April 17, 27, December 16 and 21) and silver ingots were taken out and the gold vessels were deposited and subsequently taken out as evidenced from the entries in the Mahassar Books and other registers maintained by the Muthalpidi(Treasure) of the temple," said Rai in his first audit report filed before the Supreme Court.

"There is lack of financial control; of the custody and use of precious articles. So far more than 72 audit notes have been issued pointing out the deficiencies and discrepancies," Rai also said and decided to audit the records of last 15 years.

Rai's committee comprised K S Premachandra Kurup, a Kerala cadre retired IAS officer and K N Narayana Swami, deputy accountant general (retired) and five retired audit officers.

In April, the apex court had entrusted Rai and his team to audit the Padmanabhaswamy temple properties, assets and accounts.

The court passed the order while hearing a plea against the poor management of temple wealth. Restraining the royal family of Travancore, which looks after the administration of the temple, the apex court also appointed a five-member committee headed the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram by for its day-to-day administration.

Earlier, amicus curiae senior advocate Gopal Subramanium had termed the condition of the temple premises as "disturbing", as for past several years the gold and silver items have not accounted.

He also said that a plastic bag containing two kg of precious metal particularly the pieces of idol was found.

"What kind of management is it and what kind of administration is it? Public have given money and jewellery. There should be complete transparency. Special audit is required," he said.

In July 2011, a treasure trove of gold, diamonds and precious stones worth thousands of crores and hidden for centuries was discovered in the underground vaults of the temple, which is dedicated to Lord Padmanabhaswamy and dates back to the 16th century.

Alleging huge lapses in the management of the vast wealth of the temple, Subramanium had suggested that the Supreme Court order a formal audit by Vinod Rai, who has served as the national auditor.

The temple was built and managed by the former rulers of Travancore. The head of the former royal family still controls the temple, unlike other temples in Kerala which are managed by the government. The vast underground vaults were searched in 2011 after a local lawyer petitioned a court to order the government to take over the temple as it did not have adequate security to protect its wealth. The Supreme Court then had set up a committee to open the long-sealed vaults and take stock of the treasure.

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