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Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Facing Unprecedented Financial Crisis; Govt Aid Needed : Administrative Committee To Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Sep 2021 2:44 PM GMT
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Facing Unprecedented Financial Crisis; Govt Aid Needed : Administrative Committee To Supreme Court
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The iconic Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram is facing unprecedented financial crisis and is unable to meet the monthly expenses due to the pandemic crisis, its Administrative Committee has told the Supreme Court.The report submitted by the head of the Administrative Committee - the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram P Krishnakumar -stated that though the temple requested...

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The iconic Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram is facing unprecedented financial crisis and is unable to meet the monthly expenses due to the pandemic crisis, its Administrative Committee has told the Supreme Court.

The report submitted by the head of the Administrative Committee - the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram P Krishnakumar -stated that though the temple requested for financial help from the Government of Kerala, it resulted in futility. As per the report, the monthly income of the temple is reduced to Rupees Fifty - Sixty lakhs as the Temple has remained closed for over one year due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, it requires at least Rs.1.25 crores for paying salaries of the temple staff and to meet other expenditure for performing rituals and poojas etc.

So far, the crisis is managed by utilizing the funds available in various Fixed Deposits and Savings Bank accounts, but the said amount will completely be depleted, if the Temple pays of the salary of next month and the amount due towards gratuity and other dues

In this backdrop, the Committee has decided to request the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trust, which is constituted by the erstwhile Royal Family of Travancore, to transfer its income to the Temple.

The Committee has said that aid from the Government and the Trust is necessary for the Temple to tide over its unprecedented financial crisis. It points out that as per Section 18(1) of the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religion Institution Act 1950, the State Government is bound to pay Rs.6 lakhs per year to the Temple. This amount has not been adequately enhanced, proportionate to the rate of inflation.

In this backdrop, the Committee also raises the demand for a special audit of 25 years of the Trust, by pointing out that as per the Trust deed, its incomes are to be utilized for the Temple. In this connection, the Report points out that the the Special Audit Authority appointed by the Supreme Court has flagged various anomalies in the conduct of the Trust.

The Trust has approached the Supreme Court seeking exemption from the audit for 25 years, contending that it was meant only for the Temple. Last week, a bench led by Justice UU Lalit reserved orders on that application, after hearing Senior Advocate Arvind Datar for the Trust and Senior Advocate R Basant for the Administrative Committee. The Supreme Court will pronounce orders on the Trust's application tomorrow.

Last year, the Supreme Court had handed over the administration of the temple from the erstwhile Travancore Royal Family to an Administrative Committee constituted by the Court.

Also, the Court had directed the Administrative Committee to order audit of the temple's income and expenses for the past 25 years, as suggested by amicus curiae Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium.

A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra(since retired) had passed the direction last year in a special leave petition filed by the legal heirs of the ex-Travancore Ruler challenging a Kerala High Court judgment which declared that royal family has no rights over the temple. The Supreme Court recognized the "shebait" rights of the ex-royal family but handed over the administration to the Administrative Committee, which was to be headed by the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram. The Court had also directed the temple to repay to the State Government amount to the tune of Rs 11.70 Crores expended by the State for the security and maintenance of the Temple.


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