New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked counsel Gopal Subramanium to reconsider his decision to withdraw as amicus curiae in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple case, which had hit the headlines in 2011 over its huge treasure trove.
Noting that Subramanium had devoted considerable time and done things, the bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Anil R. Dave asked him to consider continuing as the amicus curiae and assist the court.
The court ordered that copies of the report by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai, the expert committee and the interim report of the chairperson of the administrative committee of the temple be given to Rama Varma, and others for their response. The court asked Rai April 24 to undertake the audit of the temple accounts and properties. Rama Varma is the head of the Travancore royal family and trustee of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. He succeeded as trustee of the temple after the demise of Marthanda Varma.
The court also allowed Rama Varma and other members of the royal family to inspect the documents relied upon by Subramanium in his report critical of the affairs of the temple. Rama Varma’s sister too moved the court to respond to an allegation by Subramanium in his report on the members of the royal family over the temple treasure.
The court ordered that the former executive officer and administrative officer of the temple – who had gone on four months’ leave in the wake of Subramanium’s report – will continue to be on leave for another four months. Addressing the court, counsel K.K. Venugopal assailed Subramanium’s report, saying the royal family which gave everything in entirety was being accused of stealing the temple assets.
“A family which donated all its assets in entirety is being accused of stealing the treasure article,” Venugopal said, slamming the report. Saying that Subramanium acted more as a “detective” than discharging the role of an amicus curiae, Venugopal said Subramanium stretched his apprehensions of wrongdoing by the members of royal family to the extent that he arranged for breaking the door between the temple and the royal palace to dig out the other vaults and grills were cut by gas-cutters.
Though nothing was found in vaults G and H, it was said there was a strong smell of nitrate – used to preserve precious metal. “This is all a detective work,” Venugopal said. Contending that all this was done to create prejudice against the members of the royal family, including its head, Venugopal said: “With the permission of tantric (priest) and not that of executive officer (of the temple), the private palace was invaded without following the procedure of law by merely advancing the authority of the Supreme Court”.
Venugopal told the court: “We are put on a backfoot where strange things are being said and strange things are being done, and then I am accused of taking things from Kalaras (vaults).”
“All that the temple has in the vaults are donated by the royal family over the generations and they will not take even a rupee from it,” the court was told. The matter will come up for further hearing Nov 11.