‘Since temple assets are public property, hand them over to public committees’

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan on Saturday said he was in favour of a Guruvayur Devaswom model of administration for the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, wherein temple affairs are handed over to public committees.

Addressing a news conference here, Mr. Achuthanandan said he felt vindicated by the Supreme Court-appointed Amicus Curie’s report, submitted to the apex court, in connection with the ‘malpractices’ that had been going on in the temple administration with the tacit involvement of the members of the Travancore royal family.

Nearly two and half years ago, he said, he had alleged that the members of the royal family were involved in smuggling out ornaments from the temple. The matter was brought to his notice during his tenure as Chief Minister by some temple officials. But his allegations were dismissed and interpreted as an attempt of a communist to meddle in temple affairs.

Complimenting the Amicus Curie, Gopal Subramanium, for bringing out these facts in his report, Mr. Achuthanandan blamed the State government for the loss of temple artefacts including gold given as offerings by devotees. The Chief Minister and the Devaswom Minister were answerable and should publically apologise for “misleading” the devotees.

He recalled that a High Court Division Bench, in its ruling on January 29, 2011, had directed the State government to take over the temple administration and institute a Guruvayur Devaswom-model committee. The then LDF government not only welcomed the verdict but also decided not to appeal against it. However, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the then head of the royal family, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Assembly elections were announced stalling further steps. “The UDF government, which subsequently came to power, connived with the temple administration and the members of the royal family to mislead the Supreme Court,” he said.

Listing the number of criminal acts against temple employees who had brought out the malpractices, Mr. Achuthanandan said he had written to the government seeking a probe into these criminal cases. But the UDF government appeared to be afraid of the wrath of the royal family, he added.

Referring to the Amicus Curie’s recommendations to end the royal family’s role in temple administration, Mr. Achuthanandan said in a democratic system, it was best to leave it to popular committees to handle temple assets, which were public property. It was in this context that the Guruvayur model, as suggested by the Amicus Curie in his report, gained relevance.

The Amicus Curie’s allusion to the malpractice in the opening of Cellar B and the purloining of artefacts was serious since these were given as offerings to the temple. He said he was looking forward to a positive verdict from the Supreme Court to set right the administration of the Padmanabhaswamy temple.

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