The Supreme Court on Thursday said vault B of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala would not be opened until documentation and preservation of assets unearthed from the other five vaults was completed.
A bench headed by justice RV Raveendran turned down an expert committee's plea to hand over the temple's security to central paramilitary forces and directed the state government to ensure adequate security.
Five of the six 'kallaras' (vaults coded A to F) opened so far by an SC-appointed committee are believed to have yielded gold and silver jewellery, coins and precious stones worth around Rs 1 lakh crore.
The court also ordered the temple's management to provide Rs 25 lakh per year for the preservation of assets and its security. The state government will bear rest of the expenditure.
The bench barred the inclusion of private players for the preservation work and said the Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Limited would do it. The court will hear the matter after three months.
On September 16, the court had reserved its order on the temple's security and opening of vault B. The court had said tradition and customs would be protected as far as possible in providing security to the 16th century shrine.
The court had appointed a five-member committee in July to supervise the unearthing and preservation of its assets. A separate three-member committee was appointed to oversee the unearthing of assets. TP Sunderarajan, a retired IPS officer, who died two months back, was the first to move court seeking transparency in running the temple.
After several rounds of litigation, the Kerala HC in January ordered the take over of the assets and management of the shrine by the state. A trust floated by the Travancore royal family runs the temple.
The present head of the royal family, Uttradam Thirunal Marthanda Verma, moved the SC, which stayed the HC order and appointed a committee to make an inventory of the temple's assets.
Kerala CM Oommen Chandy called a meeting on Monday to review security arrangements at the temple.