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SC upholds rights of Travancore royal family in administration of Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple

In its decision, the court said that the royal family has the right to maintain and manage the temple and the deity of the shrine.

The SC decision brings down the curtain on one of the longest ensuing legal battles over the temple between members of the royal family and the government. The verdict came after nine long years of hearing against a January 2011 judgment of the Kerala High Court which had ruled in the favour of state government.

As per the court order, the daily administration of the shrine would be managed by an interim administrative committee with the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram, as its chairperson.

After the court had ordered an inventory of the temple and its properties in 2011 the five of the six vaults of the temple were opened.  This led to the discovery of the wealth valued at around Rs 90,000 crore.  

At that time one of the vaults, the vault B could not be opened on which the administrative committee will decide whether to open it or not.

The king of the royal family headed a trust which managed the administration of the temple. But in 2009 a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, TP Sundara Rajan has moved the Kerala HC for handing over the temple management to the Kerala government.

In 2011 the Kerala HC had held that the temple would stand vested with the Kerala government after the death of Chithira Thirunal Balaverma who died in 1991.

In 2014 the royal family had moved the SC after which an interim administrative committee was constituted to manage the temple.

The decision of the SC in no way indicates that the temple property belongs to the royal family. In India, the temples are recognized as a public institution governed by a statute. The royals have argued that as per customs temple management would vest with them for perpetuity.  

The last ruler Balaverma while bequeathing his personal properties had not included Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple as his asset.

Travancore royal family built the Padmanabha Swamy temple and managed the grand Vishnu Temple for more than 1000 years

It was built in the 6th century and its present structure was rebuilt by the present royal family of Travancore in the 18th century.

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