Apex court restrains opening of Kerala temple vault

The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the seven-member committee from opening the last vault of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

A Bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik asked petitioner Raja Marthanda Varma, erstwhile Prince of Travancore, and the Kerala government to come out with appropriate suggestions for ensuring sanctity and security of the ancient temple.

The apex court while restraining the opening of vault (B) posted the matter for further hearing on next Thursday.

"Instead of having their eyes on the deity or sanctum sanctorum, the eyes of many people will now be on these kallara (vaults)," the Bench remarked during the hearing as the counsel for the petitioner insisted that the temple was "public property" and belonged to the public. It observed that utmost security should be ensured in and around the temple in view of the discovery of the huge wealth.

"The royal family is not claiming any ownership. It is a public temple. It is not claiming any ownership of property. No part of it belongs to any member of the family. The property belongs to Lord Padmanabhaswamy," senior counsel K K Venugopal, appearing for the erstwhile prince, told the court.

The royal family which is the trustee of the temple has challenged the Kerala government's decision to take over the administration of the temple which was earlier upheld by the Kerala High Court.

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