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Supreme Court to issue directions on Padmanabhaswamy temple today

Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 7:10am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Expressing concern over the grim picture, projected by the amicus curiae who is assisting the court in a matter relating to poor management of Padmanabhaswamy Temple's wealth and also the unhygienic condition of the premises, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will issue some directions on Thursday.

"To us it is a serious matter and need to be considered. Let us find out remedial measures which needed immediately," the bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said and deferred the hearing for Thursday.

The court order followed after amicus curiae – senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam – referred to his report, running over 500 pages, and said in his 35-day stay in Thiruvanathapuram, he had found that huge amount of gold and silver donated by the devotees in Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala have not been reported or accounted by the temple management.

The temple is being administered by the royal family of Travancore.

Terming the condition of the temple premises as "disturbing", the senior lawyer said for past several years the gold and silver items have not accounted.

He also said that a plastic bag containing 2 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 jwellery. 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, Subramaniam has suggested that the Supreme Court order a formal audit by Vinod Rai, who has served as the national auditor.

He was appointed by the court to help it assess the claims made by a Public Interest Litigation or PIL of the temple's management siphoning off vast amounts of valuables.

"Offerings by devotees are not accounted for...the public temple has been treated for all effects and purposes as a private fiefdom," he said in his report.

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.

In his report, Subramaniam cited instances in which an autorickshaw driver was found dead in a tank inside the temple premises under mysterious circumstances, and acid was thrown at another employee in a separate incident.

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