The Supreme Court Thursday ordered a special audit of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and its treasure trove by former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai in the wake of the “disturbing facts” disclosed in a report by the court-appointed amicus, Gopal Subramaniam.
A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik gave liberty to Rai to seek assistance from officers of his own choice. The court also passed a prohibitory order against alienation of any property of the temple, in any manner whatsoever, without its permission.
The bench entrusted the administration of the temple in Kerala to a five-member committee, headed by the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram. It noted that the previous management must go in view of the report, which had disclosed among instances of grave mismanagement, discovery of a gold plating machine inside the temple, suggesting stealth in an organised manner “by the highest echelons”.
“The (temple) trustees and management have failed very badly. They cannot continue. It (management) cannot be returned to them. Let God save the temple now… this is not an ordinary temple. The situation is also not such where ordinary management will be able to manage. We need good people for the purpose. This is the need of the hour,” said the court. It directed the head of the former royal family of Travancore, who is the main trustee of the temple, to hand over the keys of the ‘Kallaras’ or vaults, containing gold and other precious materials, to the new administrative committee. The committee has been asked to carry out an inspection and prepare a complete inventory of the temple’s vast wealth.
The bench also asked the administrative committee to get CCTV cameras installed in the temple and to further ensure accounting of ‘kaanikka’ or donation box once in a week under the supervision of its chairman.
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.