SC extends time to complete special audit of Padmanabhaswamy temple, trusts

The Bench said the time to finish the auditing exercise had been extended in the ‘interest of justice’ on a request made by the temple’s administrative and advisory committees.

Published - July 18, 2022 03:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. File

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. File | Photo Credit: S. Gopakumar

The Supreme Court on Monday extended the time for completion of the special audit of 25 years of accounts of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and its trusts to August 31, 2022.

A Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit said the time to finish the auditing exercise had been extended in the "interest of justice" on a request made by the temple's administrative and advisory committees. The court ordered a compliance report to be filed before it after the audit was over.

On February 10, the court had similarly extended the time till June 30. The court recorded this fact in its order on Monday.

The court, in a judgment in July 2020, while upholding the Travancore royal family’s claim of shebaitship of the properties of the Sri Padmanabha, the chief deity of the famed temple in Thiruvananthapuram, had ordered the special audit of the temple, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trust, and allied trusts. The temple is reportedly one of the richest in the country.

A ‘public temple’

The court had also accepted the royal family’s submission that the Padmanabhaswamy temple was a “public temple”. It had issued a slew of directions for its transparent administration in the future, including the formation of a temple administrative committee with the Thiruvananthapuram District Judge as the chairperson.

The other members of the committee include a nominee of the trustee (royal family), the chief ‘thantri’ of the temple, a nominee of the State and a member nominated by the Union Ministry of Culture. This committee panel would take care of the daily administration of the temple.

It had also ordered a second committee to be constituted to advise the administrative committee on policy matters. Both committees should start functioning within the next two months and an executive officer should be appointed without delay.

The primary duties of the committees would be to preserve the treasures and properties. They would take a call on whether to open Kallara B, considered to be the richest among the temple vaults, for inventorisation. The committees would ensure that rituals and religious practices are conducted as per custom and on the advice of the Chief ‘Thantri’.

The court said the committees would ensure that income to the temple would be used to augment its facilities.

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