Temple Treasure is National Property – CPM; Then what about Crores worth Church and Waqf assets?

published on November 8, 2012

Temple treasure: CPM calls amicus curiae a valet of royalty

The CPI(M) on Thursday dragged the invaluable treasures of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram into yet another controversy by claiming that a major portion of these treasures were national property and by calling the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the matter as a “humble servant” of the Travancore royal family.

Stating that the report Amicus Curiae Gopal Subramaniam, former Solicitor General, presented to the apex court the other day was intended at entrusting the administration of the temple back to the royal family, State CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Despite being a famous lawyer, he has acted as a humble servant of the (former) royalty.”

Pinarayi made this charge against Subramaniam in the context of the recommendation in his report to the Supreme Court to give prominence to the royal family, the traditional custodians of the temple, in its administration. He had also recommended the appointment of a royal family member to look after the rites and rituals of the shrine.

Subramaniam’s recommendation was reportedly to make Aditya Varma, a member of the royal family, the CEO of the temple body as representative of Uthradam Thirunnal Marthanda Varma, the present head of the royal family. “The report’s essence is the intention to invest the temple administration back in the hands of vested interests,” Pinarayi alleged.

In his report explaining the present situation of the 17th century temple, Subramaniam said that everybody’s eyes were riveted on the treasures kept there and that interference of politicians in temple affairs should not be allowed. He recommended strengthening of all the six chambers, particularly Vault A, containing the invaluable articles.

Stating that the theory that the treasures in the temple were the former royal family’s property was unacceptable, Pinarayi said in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday that the articles in the vaults that were not used for the rites and rituals and other matters of the shrine belonged to the nation and any decision on it should be taken as per principles of democracy.

The treasures kept in the six cellars of the temple had become a subject of public discussions after the Kerala High Court ordered in January, 2011 that the State should take over the shrine’s administration by constituting a trust on the lines of Devaswom Boards. The Supreme Court later stayed this verdict on the basis of a petition from the royalty.

The treasures, roughly valued at over Rs 100,000 crore making it perhaps the richest Hindu shrine in the world, were presently being scientifically evaluated and documented by a committee of experts appointed by the Supreme Court. News about the treasures had brought the shrine to international attention last year.

Questioning the theory that the temple treasures belonged to the royalty, Pinarayi expressed the suspicion that the report of the amicus curiae reflected the stand adopted by the State Government. The Government has so far not made its stand clear on the petition challenging the High Court order.

Meanwhile, several Hindu organizations and devotees expressed doubts over the CPI(M)’s stand on the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple and the invaluable treasures held in its vaults. According to devotees, it was painful to see that a famous temple had become the subject of a huge controversy.

State BJP president V Muraleedharan asked why the CPI(M) was so eager about bringing the temple under the Government’s control by setting up a Devaswom Board-like body. He asked whether the CPI(M) was planning to bring the temple under Government control with an eye on the invaluable treasures if and when it came to power in the future.

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