Ashwathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi, the princess and her relatives of Travancore royal family which was managing the inestimable wealth of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram till the date Supreme Court restrained it from doing so, has claimed that at the time of transformation of the state from dynasty to democracy, the then ruler had obtained the trusteeship of the temple and its wealth.
The royal family has questioned the amicus curie and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam April 2014 report against the family and moved an application before the apex court seeking permission to intervene in the matter.
Relying on Subramaniam report which accused the royal family of mismanaging the temple wealth, the top court on April 24 had restrained them from looking into the temple administration.
In the plea, the family said “during the transformation of the state from dynasty to democracy, despite the fact that the ruler was given option to claim anything as his personal property, his claim was trustee ship of the temple and its wealth, knowing fully well the import and significance of the royal surrender or ‘Thruppatidaanam’ of the past– that is transfer by absolute gift and dedication to endure as long as the sun and moon shall last-as Deed of Dedication says.”
The Covenant was entered into in 1947, under which the ruler of Travancore (head of the royal family) had requested to allow him to serve Sree Padmanabha and to be the trustee. “This temple has all along been the family temple of Travancore Royalty. All Hindu Royal houses of India have their own Paradevatha temple whatever their administrative structure may be.
This clause became part of the Covenant and there after culminated as Special Provision in section 18 of the Travancore-Cochin Religious Institutions Act 1950,” the family said. Dismissing all the allegations including the murder charge, leveled in the report of Subramaniam, the family in its pleas said “it is an attempt to defame, dishonour and discredit the family and to disassociate them from the administration of the age old temple forever.
“Unfortunately various cruel and baseless allegations were made against them in the report. Without any basis whatsoever, the family is being accused of theft, violent and heinous crimes including murder, collusion with state of Kerala, obstruction of justice and scant respect for this court and its order is an often repeated theme,” the plea said contending that all sorts of allegations were made to generate displeasure in the mind of court, which normally, accords a presumption of prima facie reliability to a report. They alleged that the Amicus had “overestimated” his responsibility or got carried away by “Bhava , Rasa.”
Terming the royal family as Dasa (servant) of Lord, it said this exercise has resulted depriving the trustee of most sacred and century old privilege of serving the God and protecting His wealth.
“This is the saddest moment in their lives and worst humiliation the family has to endure as a result of the unjustified attack on their intense devotion to the Lord and time tested integrity,” as per the plea. In April, the apex court had accepted the Amicus report and restrained the royal family from day-to-day administration of the temple and asked former Comptroller and Auditor general of India (CAG) Vinod Rai to audit the temple accounts and assets.
It had also appointed a five member committee headed the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram for day-to-day affairs of the temple. The court passed the order while hearing a plea against the poor management of temple wealth. Submitting an interim report before the court in August, Rai’s committee concurred with the Amicus report and had said gold vessels and silver ingots were taken out of B Nillavara (Bharathakone kallara) in the past.
“It had been opened twice in the year 1990( June 8 and July 9), five times during 2002 (March 9, April 17, 27, December 16 and 21) and silver ingots were taken out and the gold vessels were deposited and subsequently taken out as evidenced from the entries in the Mahassar Books and other registers maintained by the Muthalpidi(Treasure) of the temple.” said Rai.
Both Amicus and Rai are likely to file their separate reports to court on the next date of hearing.