The Padmanabhaswamy Temple and its treasure trove are back in focus with the Supreme Court-appointed amicus, Gopal Subramaniam, disclosing that he found a gold plating machine inside the temple, suggesting stealth in an organised manner “by the highest echelons”.
In his final report, the senior advocate has said that discovery of large amounts of unaccounted gold and silver was a shock to him, and the discovery of the gold plating machine accentuated his suspicion. “This discovery raises a doubt of organised extraction by persons belonging to the highest echelons. In order to prevent any problems… methods adopted to quell any resistance from the staff are horrific,” he said in his over 500-page 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.
The report referred to the apparent reluctance by the administration and police to take action. “The lack of adequate investigation… is a telling sign that although Trivandrum is in state of Kerala, parallelism based on monarchic rule appears to predominate the social psyche,” it said, adding there was evident disparagement regarding the Supreme Court’s orders.
The report criticised the way in which the temple was being administered by the royal family of Travancore, which is the trustee of the temple.
“It appears there is a large scale breach of moral and fiduciary duties towards Shree Padmanabhaswamy and the temple. The temple, which is a public temple, has been treated for all effects and purposes as a private fiefdom,” said the report.
Pointing out that the royal family and the temple management never produced the original inventory of the temple wealth, the report contended that accounts were either being incorrectly maintained or not maintained at all for the past 30 years and a “continuous pretence” was being made to show no monies existed at all.
Subramaniam sought complete disassociation of the royal family from the temple management and constitution of a new committee. He also recommended a special audit by former CAG Vinod Rai, assisted by an RBI deputy governor. The court will take up his report on April 23.