Don’t open vault B of Kerala temple right now: Apex court

TRIVANDRUM — The sixth vault of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the Kerala capital of Trivandrum will remain shut until the treasures found in five hidden vaults are catalogued. The process is expected to take more than a year.

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Published: Fri 23 Sep 2011, 11:48 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:55 AM

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider opening the sixth vault referred to as Vault B only after the treasures estimated at Rs1 trillion found from the five vaults are documented, secured and preserved. A division bench consisting of Justices RV Raveendran, AK Patnaik and HL Gokhale has permitted a five member committee of experts appointed by it to document the treasures to seek the help of state-run Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron) in the task.

The court, however, rejected the suggestion of committee headed by CV Ananda Bose, director general of National Museum, to hand over the security of the temple to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The state government will continue to provide the security. The temple administration has been asked to provide Rs2.5 million to the government towards the integrated multi-layered security provided by the Kerala police.

The remaining expense will be borne by the state government.

The apex court said efforts should be made to shorten time taken to implement the expert committee’s suggestion of one-year to put in place security. It tasked the panel to ensure expenses were kept at the minimum.

The erstwhile Travancore royal family, who have been the custodians of the temple, had earlier told the apex court that vault B should not be opened. They also opposed videogrpahing and photographing of the treasures saying it was against the temple traditions and practices.

The plea followed a ‘devaprasnam’ (astrological consultation), which warned that the opening of the vault B could spell disaster not only to those who are involved in the process but also to the state and the country as a whole.

However, the court rejected the plea saying it could not promote superstition. The judges pointed out they had deferred the opening of the vault which remained closed for more than 130 years, to ensure fool-proof security to the treasures already unearthed from the five vaults.

The discovery of the treasures sparked a controversy, with one section, including the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanding utilisation of the wealth for the public good and another demanding its preservation in the temple itself.

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