Vault C will be opened first, panel informs apex court

The inventorying of the vaults of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple here will begin on Monday with the unsealing of vault C.

The expert committee for this project has informed the Supreme Court that vault C would be opened first, for the inventorying. However, this vault is among the four vaults in the temple which are under the seal of the Principal Sub-Court, Thiruvananthapuram. Each time any of these vaults need to be opened, the temple administration submits an application to the court and deposits a fee for the same.

Contempt of court issue

The vault seal is broken open by a commissioner representing the court. Now, that the Supreme Court has ordered the sub-court not to make any more pronouncements in the temple case, the question is who would break open the seal of vault C on Monday.

“The vault seal can only be opened on the basis of an order from the sub-court. Now that the sub-court cannot pass any order on the case consequent to which the vaults were sealed, the expert committee should have submitted an application to the Supreme Court for unsealing the vaults. Otherwise the expert committee does not have the mandate to unseal the vaults,” a lawyer associated with the temple case in the Supreme Court told The Hindu on Saturday. If the vaults are opened without a court order, whoever does the opening would be liable for contempt of court, he said.

Meantime, the temple administration has reportedly submitted a letter to the court commissioners requesting that the seal of vault C be broken open for inventorying on February 20.

No confusion

K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary who is also a member of the expert committee, told The Hindu that no permission was needed from a court for opening the vaults. It is to fulfil the Supreme Court's directive to inventory the vaults that they are being sought to the opened now.

“Anyhow the key is already there with the administrative officer of the temple. On February 20, the commissioners can come and break open the seal for us. Otherwise it will be broken open by the committee. I do not think anybody's permission is needed for this. Those who say otherwise are trying to create a problem where none exists,” he explained.

In its report submitted to the Supreme Court the other day, the expert committee headed by M.V. Nair had noted that the State government was still to provide any funds to the committee. The committee would meet its expenses from the money given to it by the temple administration, the report said.