Supreme Court orders special audit of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple

A PIL was filed regarding the utilisation of the riches of the temple

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered special audit of Kerala's Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple under the supervision of former CAG Vinod Rai.

The controversy surrounding the alleged mismanagement of Kerala’s famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple on Wednesday evoked sharp reaction from the Supreme Court, which said there are certain “disturbing features” and “extremely serious” issues which require immediate redressal.

“There are certain disturbing features. Few things are really disturbing which need to be taken care without loss of time,” a bench comprising Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik said.

The observation by the bench came at the outset of the hearing when senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, who is appearing as an amicus curiae in the matter, was about to apprise the court about his April 15 report in which he highlighted several serious irregularities in the management of the temple and its wealth.

Subramaniam, who sought a direction from the court for restraining the present trustee and his family members from interfering either directly or indirectly with the day-to-day management of the temple, said keys of ‘kallaras’ (lock up) should be handed over to the judicial officer nominated by the District Judge.

He submitted there was need for independent management of the temple so that officials can carry out their function freely and fearlessly.

The senior advocate said proper sealing and locking of trunks has to be carried out as it was found that seals were broken.

After an hour-long hearing during which senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for scion of Travancore Royal family, raised objections to Subramaniam’s report, the bench said parties including Kerala Government will be given chance to respond to the findings in the report.

“The matter requires immediate hearing. To us it is an extremely serious matter. We would like to hear all of you,” the bench said, posting further hearing for Thursday. Venugopal said everything in the report was not acceptable as astonishing things have been stated and in many cases wrong inferences have been drawn.

Venugopal said it was also not correct on the part of the committee of experts to make inspection of the residential area of the royal family which is separated from the temple complex.

When Venugopal made mention of Subramaniam’s religious inclination, the bench said, “It would be highly unfair”. “We would like to respect the amicus curiae. We would like you to say not a word towards him. It would not be proper. He may be having perception. It is highly unfair as a matter of fact. It is at our request he agreed to assist us,” the bench said.

Additional Solicitor General K V Vishwanathan, appearing for Kerala Government, also disputed some facts raised by Subramaniam on the cleaning of tanks in the temple, the contract of which has been given to a private party and will cost around Rs 90 lakh.

( Source : PTI )
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