Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala | Commons
Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala | Commons
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The Supreme Court judgment in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy case heaps injury on insult. While apparently reinstating the traditional trusteeship rights of the Travancore royals, the conditions and terms on which this is being done effectively forces the temple to depend on the state and various government nominees for day-to-day operations, and also make ends meet, given its meagre monthly collections from devotees.

Let’s leave aside the shift of power from the royal family to a five-member administrative committee headed by the Thiruvananthapuram District Judge, and two nominees from the Kerala and Union governments. Only the head priest and the royal family nominee can be said to be real stakeholders in the temple, and they have two votes in a panel of five.


Also read: All about Padmanabhaswamy Temple, its treasures and the royal family that will control it


But the real onerous nature of the judgement is in its fine print (read the full text of the judgement here). The most debilitating elements are the following:

One, following the return of the royals as the main hereditary trustees, the cost of providing security to this temple, which is said to house treasures worth over Rs 100,000 crore (or much more, if one were to compute their antique values), shifts back to the temple.

The temple’s actual income from devotee offerings is barely Rs 1.5 crore a month, and in Covid-19 times offerings are down even further. Currently, it is not in a position to even meet employee salaries. There is no way it can pay for its own security without state funding.

The judgement says: “It must also be stated that the present security arrangements as deployed by the state government shall be continued, but the expenses in that behalf shall be borne by the temple hereafter”.

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The state claims to have invested close to Rs 23 crore in security installations and personnel, though the annual variable costs of running the security establishment will itself cross the current collections from devotees. If the state demands that the temple now pay for its own security and the gadgetry and surveillance equipment provided by it, the temple may well be unable to do so.

Consider what the Supreme Court has done: it has effectively forced one of the richest temples in the country, with lots of land and gold and precious stones, to go to the communist state government with a begging bowl. One wonders what kind of subordinate relationship this will create between the traditional trustees and the state.


Also read: Travancore ex-royal family says Padmanabhaswamy temple verdict not a victory, but a blessing


Two, the judgement has ordered a 25-year audit of the temple. It has asked the new advisory committee, to be headed by a retired high court judge, to “order audit for the last 25 years, as suggested by the learned amicus curiae. The audit shall be conducted by a firm of reputed chartered accountants.”

Such long-term audits have never been ordered even on scam-tainted promoters or companies, but a temple is supposed to do so. Needless to say, the audit will take years to complete, and during that time, the temple managers will be constantly looking over their shoulders about what surprise the CAs may spring on them.

What a wonderful way to free temples and then shackle them to a disastrous follow-through.

The Kerala government has said it will implement the court order and not appeal against it, but then why should it not? It now has the trustees in the position of supplicants it has always wanted.

The author is Editorial Director, Swarajya. Views are personal.

The article was first published on Swarajya website.

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18 Comments Share Your Views

18 COMMENTS

  1. There is no fund crunch for this Royal temple which could soon became an international pilgrim tourist destination .the temple can have liquidy to any amount the committee decides which include one state nominee either be the corporation secretary or the RDO being Hindu by Religion .

  2. one more non sense article. Tell me, do you guys do special training on non sense or does the people writing this graduate with this??

  3. Devotees and Keralites should form a Hindu Devotees Kerala Trust and contribute 10-100 Rs each family, each month, like Tithe collected by Churches. More if they can. That should meet the security expenses and may be even part of the running expenses, of the temple treasures and antiques, not only in this Padmanabhaswamy temple, but numerous other temples as well.

  4. WHY THERE IS A HUE AND CRY? SUPREME COURT ORDERED INVESTIGATION INTO THE AFFAIRS OF PADMANABHA SWAMY TEMPLE. IT IS HIS BLESSINGS . THIS ORDER PAVE WAY TO GO BACK TO ALL HINDU TEMPLE AND TRUSTS. NATION SHALL BE CLEANED. IF IT IS A CASE FILED BY SAMASTANAM. IT IS FINE. iF IT IS FILED BY SOME INDIVIDUAL OLD DEVOTEE, WHO WAS KILLED IN MID NIGHT, ITIS FINE. WHAT IS WRONG WITH COMMUNISM AND CORRUPTION IN THE SANCTUM? COMMUNIST WERE AGAINST USING RELGION AGAINST PEOPLE. GODMEN USING THEIR INFLUENCE AGAINST MASS UPRISE AGAINST OPPRESSION. IT IS CONVENIENT TO THESE PRESENT DAY COMMUNALIST TO CONDEMN COMMUNIST AND ROB THE GOD’S SANCTION. LET THERE BE UNBIASTED, INVESTIGATION BY TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS INDEPENDENT OF EACH OTHER. BE HONEST AND AT LEAST ,LET THE GOD COME WITH HIS VERDICTS IN ALL THE TEMPLES IN INDIA. COMMUNAL LOOTERS WILL BE EXPOSED.

  5. A division Bench of High Court wanted a KeralaTrust to manage the affairs of Padmanabha temple. A democratically elected Trust will be more responsible and accountable for every action. But the Supreme Court has quashed the High Court order and entrusted the temple to the royal family. Royal family itself is a misnomer because on August 15, 1947 Government of India took over the entire administration of the country. But the Supreme Court order has revived the defunct royal family.There is no problem with the present royal family. What about the future? How can we trust the royal family? In Nepal, rivalry in the royal family has witnessed shooting among brothers. It’s also not good to keep the vast quantities of gold inside the temple. Indian history is replete with conquerors looting temple treasures (Someswara, Vijayanagar etc.,). Now that it is known to the whole world that immense quantities of gold are stored in the temple, it is highly risky to keep them unused. In the event of a war, as happened recently with China, golden treasure will be targeted by the enemy. China has gifted a warship to Sri Lanka, in the latest sign of its deepening military cooperation with the strategically located island nation in the Indian Ocean.
    Gold kept in the in the temple can be used for development activities. Henry VIII seized gold articles kept in churches and used them to build the British navy which helped Britain to become a world power.

    • Churches in India have been holding the largest share in comparison to any authority. They possess millions hectares of land in India. Do you want Government should take over the all land from churches?

  6. Most important aspect is that the post of District Judge becomes a reservation post for one religion. Otherwise who will head the administrative committee?

  7. No need. The royal family was running the temple smoothly. When political parties in the name of trade unions interfered , trouble started.

  8. What if we shift it to a bank after appreciation, and ask the state to protect as all normal citizens ask the govts. to do. if commis and jihadis think that cannot be done under state cost then your black money will be also obliterated.

  9. Communist believe in atheism then why are they salivating on being on the trust board of a temple. It is the real illiberal character of the communist that is getting exposed here. They want control over temples, wealth and destroy the culture and civilization of the land.

    • Sir its lord padmanabhas money…why are you so keen to take it. All the hindu temples are the only place where government interfere, no church nor mosques.the money is offering to lord padmanabha .let it be there as elements not as wealth.

  10. Communist believe in atheism then why are they salivating on being on the trust board of a temple. It is the real illiberal character of the communist that is getting exposed here. They want control over temples, wealth and destroy the culture and civilization of the land. Shame less bas***ds.

  11. Only Hindu temples are pilloried – what a pity. Will BJP govt intervene and pass an Ordinance to circumvent this decison.

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