Padmanabhanswamy Temple Judgment
This Blog is written by Prakhar Agrahari from Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida. Edited by Ritika Sharma.
The Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary is a Hindu sanctuary situated in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala, India. The name of the city of Thiruvananthapuram in Malayalam means “The City of Lord Ananta”, alluding to the divinity of the Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary. The sanctuary is worked in a perplexing combination of the Chera style and the Dravidian style of design, including high dividers, and a sixteenth-century gopura. While the Ananthapura sanctuary in Kumbla is viewed as the first seat of the divinity (“Moolasthanam”), compositionally somewhat, the sanctuary is a reproduction of the Adikesava Perumal sanctuary in Thiruvattar.
No one knew for certain what was covered up underneath the antiquated Sri Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary, in Trivandrum, India. In any case, a legal counselor named Ananda Padmanabhan suspected. As indicated by legend, the treasure was fixed in the sanctuary vaults, and Padmanabhan, who was enthusiastic about history, realized that in hundreds of years past maharajas had played out a function in which they gauged neighborhood rulers moving toward adulthood, at that point gave to the sanctuary a proportional weight in gold. Padmanabhan accepted that this wealth was as yet covered up in the storm cellar, uncounted and unguarded.
Padmanabhan, who is thirty-nine, has gone through his time on earth in Trivandrum, which is at the southwestern tip of India, in the territory of Kerala. His home and his law office are on noteworthy Brahmin Street, just outside the doors of the sanctuary, which has a fantastic seven-story tower whose pale rock façade is an embroidered artwork of stone, scratched with luxurious pictures of divine beings, fairies, sprites, and evil spirits.
The focal legitimate inquiry was whether Utradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the more youthful sibling of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last Ruler of Travancore, could profess to be the “Leader of Travancore” after the demise of the ruler in 1991.
The court analyzed this case inside the restricted significance of that term as per the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950 to guarantee possession, control, and the board of the antiquated Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
A few surviving Hindu Texts like the Brahma Purana, Matsya Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Padma Purana, Vayu Purana, Bhagavata Purana and the Mahabharata notice this shrine. The Temple has been alluded to in the (main recorded) Sangam time of writing between 500 BCE and 300 CE a few times. Numerous traditional students of history and researchers are of the feeling that one of the names that the Temple had, “The Golden Temple”, truly was incomprehension of the way that the Temple was at that point inconceivably rich by that point. Numerous surviving bits of Sangam Tamil writing and verse, and later works of the ninth century of Tamil artist holy people like Nammalwar, allude to the sanctuary and the city as having dividers of unadulterated gold. At certain spots, both the sanctuary and the whole city are regularly praised as being made of gold, and the sanctuary as paradise.
The sanctuary is one of the 108 head Divya Desams (“Holy Abodes”) in Vaishnavism and is celebrated in the Divya Prabandha. The Divya Prabandha commends this holy place as being among the 13 Divya Desam in Malai Nadu (comparing to give day Kerala Kanyakumari District). The eighth-century Tamil artist Alvar Nammalvar sang the wonders of Padmanabha. The Ananthapuram sanctuary in Kasaragod is accepted to be the first seat of Padmanabhaswamy (“Moolasthanam”).
A two-judge Supreme Court seat comprised of Justice UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra, on July 13, conveyed its decision on a nine-year-long administration disagreement regarding the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvanthapuram, maintaining the privileges of the past Travancore illustrious family in its organization.
According to the most recent decision, another sanctuary organization advisory group led by a locale judge will likewise be shaped, with the reviewing of Vault (Kalara) B, said to house the sanctuary’s most important things, left to the course of the board of trustees.
With the most recent decision, the Supreme Court seat has now put aside the past decision of the Kerala High Court which had guided the state government to make a trust to assume responsibility for the sanctuary.
The sanctuary initially came into the spotlight when a stock exercise requested by the Supreme Court in 2011, saw the resources held inside it as worth in overabundance of One Lakh Crore Rupees. Following this, guests to the sanctuary expanded complex, with the sanctuary developing as one the southern state’s prime pilgrimage and the travel industry goals.
In the Kerala high court’s judgment in a similar case (Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma and Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple v. Association of India and others), conveyed on January 31, 2011, the intrigue against which was chosen by the Supreme Court on Monday, the word ‘shebait’ happens just a single time as an option in contrast to trustees, archakas or representatives and the word ‘shebaitship’ doesn’t happen by any stretch of the imagination.
Once more, the Supreme Court’s judgment alludes to the Rulers of Indian States (Abolition of Privileges) Act, 1972 nine times, though the Kerala high court’s 2011 judgment is totally quiet on its significance to the conversation.
These twin highlights concisely clarify why the Kerala high court found that the Travancore illustrious family was not qualified for a deal with the undertakings of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary after 1991, while the Supreme Court seat including Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and Indu Malhotra, found the family totally qualified to do as such.
The articulation “shebait” is gotten from “sewa” which signifies “administration”. Shebait, in strict sense, implies one who renders sewa to the symbol or a god. For quite a long time, the sanctuary had been under the selective administration of progressive rulers from the decision group of Travancore. The leaders of Travancore, till the marking of the Covenant in May 1949, were directors or shebaits of the Temple.
All the temples which were under the influence and the executives of the past Princely States of Travancore and Cochin were heavily influenced by the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards before 1947. Be that as it may, according to the Instrument of Accession marked between the august states and the Government of India, since 1949, the organization of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple was “vested in trust” in the Ruler of Travancore. The province of Kerala was cut out in 1956 however the sanctuary kept on being overseen by the past royals.
In 1971, privy purses to the previous royals were annulled through a sacred revision stripping their qualifications and benefits. The move was maintained in a court in 1993 and the last leader of Travancore who kicked the bucket during the pendency of this case kept on dealing with the undertakings of the sanctuary till at that point.
In 1991, when the last ruler’s sibling assumed control over the sanctuary the board, it made a furor among lovers who moved the courts prompting a since quite a while ago drawn fight in court. The legislature participates; supporting the cases of the candidate that Marthanda Varma had no lawful option to guarantee the control or the board of the temples.
Since 2011, the way toward opening the vaults has prompted the disclosure of treasure inside the Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary, provoking a discussion on who possesses temple property and how it ought to be controlled. Regardless of being a common nation that isolates religion from the undertakings of the state, Hindu temples, its benefits are represented through legal laws and sheets vigorously constrained by state governments. This framework appeared predominantly through the advancement of a lawful structure to prohibit distance by regarding sanctuaries as open land; it has brought about numerous fights in court. Accepting to the royals’ accommodation that the temple is an “open temple”, the court gave a huge number of headings for its straight forward organization later on.
It coordinated the setting up of a managerial advisory group with the Thiruvananthapuram District Judge as its executive.
Different individuals would be a chosen one of the trustees (illustrious family), the boss thanthri of the sanctuary, a candidate of the State and a part selected by the Union Ministry of Culture. This panel would deal with the day by day organization of the sanctuary.
It additionally requested a subsequent board to be comprised to prompt the authoritative advisory group on strategy matters. This would be led by a resigned High Court judge selected by the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
Who had the possession, control and the executives of the Padmanabhaswamy sanctuary before 1991? (Have a concise review of the occasions):
All the temples which were under the influence and the executives of the recent Princely States of Travancore and Cochin were heavily influenced by the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards before 1947.
1) Be that as it may, according to the Instrument of Accession marked between the august states and the Government of India, since 1949, the organization of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple was “vested in trust” in the Ruler of Travancore.
2) The province of Kerala was cut out in 1956 yet the sanctuary kept on being overseen by the recent royals.
3) In 1971, privy totes to the previous royals were annulled through a protected change stripping their qualifications and benefits.
4) In 1991, when the last ruler’s sibling assumed control over the sanctuary the board, it made a furore among fans who moved the courts prompting a since quite a while ago drawn fight in court. The legislature participates; supporting the cases of the candidate that Marthanda Varma had no legitimate option to guarantee the control or the board of the sanctuary.
Abolition of Privy Purses
By the Constitution, 26th Amendment Act, 1971, the privy totes, benefits, and other extraordinary privileges of the past leaders of Indian states were nullified by erasing Articles 291 and 362 and by fusing Article 366(22) in the Constitution. The test against it was repulsed by the Supreme Court vide judgment rendered by the constitution seat on February 4, 1993 in Raghunathrao Ganapatrao v Union of India.
The 26th Amendment Act erased Articles 291 and 362 and embedded Article 363A which explicitly specifies bury alia that any individual who was perceived to be the leader of an Indian state or his replacement, will, stop to be perceived as such ruler or replacement, and all rights, liabilities, and commitments in regard of privy totes stand quenched.
Article 366(22) was additionally as needs are revised and as far as the corrected definition, “Ruler” presently implies bury alia, the individual who was perceived as the leader of an Indian state or as a replacement to such Ruler, before the initiation of said Constitutional Amendment.
The Relevance of 1972 Act
In 1972, the parliament established the Rulers of Indian States (Abolition of Privileges) Act, 1972, to alter certain authorizations resulting on de-acknowledgment of leaders of Indian states and abrogation of privy handbags, in order to annul the benefits of rulers and to make certain transitional arrangements to empower the said rulers to modify continuously to the changed conditions.
In spite of the 26th Amendment Act, 1971, the private properties of the ruler would keep on being accessible for typical progression and devolution as per the law and custom, the Supreme Court held. In any case, the court likewise acknowledged the imperial family’s case that it not, at this point though about the sanctuary as its private property and that it just looked for shebaitship.
The High Court’s thinking
One of the important issues which the Supreme Court didn’t consider is whether the last ruler, who passed on in 1991, at any point thought about the sanctuary as family property.
Article18(1) of the TC Act which accommodates ceaseless financing of the sanctuary by the state government at the pace of Rs 6 lakhs yearly obviously buildup this is an open sanctuary, however, during the life of the last ruler, he was permitted to deal with the equivalent.
Without a definition in the TC Act, the definition contained in the constitution’s Article 366(22) must be embraced to characterize “ruler,” the high court held.
Just the last ruler satisfies the definition, and nobody can secure that status, which isn’t heritable. Accordingly, none of the replacements of the family could guarantee control or the board of the sanctuary under 18(2) of the TC Act after the passing of the last Ruler, the high court held.
The high court additionally depended on the Supreme Court constitution seat’s choice in 1993 which maintained the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, to empower the state government to assume control over the sanctuary and deal with the equivalent by comprising the Devaswom Board or other trust or authority like the Guruvayur or Koodalmanikyam Devaswoms or something like that. The Supreme Court’s judgment doesn’t answer whether the high court’s dependence on the Constitution seat’s judgment was well-suited.
After going through every account of the history of the temple and the family presented to it, the court declared that:
The King of Travancore was thus responsible for setting up the Temple, in the form that it stands today, and it was the King who installed the new idol, and since then the management of the Temple, till the Covenant was signed, had always been with the Kings of Travancore.
More importantly, it concluded:
We must thus conclude that as on the day when the Covenant was entered into by the Ruler of the Covenanting State of Travancore, apart from other incidents which normally follow the rulership, he was holding the office of Shebait of the Temple and represented a continuous and unbroken line of successive Shebaits traced from the original founder; and being a Shebait of the Temple, he was having all the rights and interest as laid down by decisions referred to hereinabove.
Along these lines, as it were, while this is an extraordinary judgment for the sanctuary and has constrained ramifications for different sanctuaries who are in the same circumstance (in Mysore, Kashi, Rajasthan, and so forth), the decision isn’t a panacea for the “liberating sanctuaries from government control’ development.
Yet, we should not miss timberland for the trees. In any case, it’s an extraordinary and thorough triumph. Furthermore, Hindus need to appreciate it.
(1) CIVIL APPEAL NO.2732 OF 2020