The Supreme Court Wednesday expressed serious concerns over the “disturbing facts” disclosed by a damning report submitted by the court-appointed amicus, Gopal Subramaniam, regarding the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and its treasure trove.
A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik said certain immediate and urgent remedial measures must be taken in view of the report, which had disclosed several instances of grave mismanagement, discovery of a gold plating machine inside the temple, suggesting stealth in an organised manner “by the highest echelons”.
“To us, it is a very serious matter and certain directives must follow. We are very much concerned about the facts of the case and remedial measures that should take effect immediately. The matter requires our immediate attention,” said the bench while posting the matter for Thursday to issue orders.
The court has agreed to consider entrusting the keys of the temple’s eight vaults to the concerned district judge and re-constitution of the committee that is looking after its management. It will also consider orders on proper sealing and locking of trunks, and audit of donations put in boxes by the followers.
The Indian Express had on Saturday reported from the relevant part of the over 500-page report by former Solicitor General Subramaniam, who stayed for 35 days inside the temple premises in Kerala to prepare the report. Besides seeking a special audit, his report had criticised the way in which the temple was being administered by the royal family of Travancore, which is the trustee of the temple, and recommended their disassociation from the management.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Moolam Tirunal Rama Varma, the oldest male member of the royal family, questioned the religious inclination of Subramaniam and indicated his legal acumen might have been clouded by the faith. The bench shot down Venugopal’s arguments saying Subramaniam must be respected.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.