The management of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, where a treasure trove has been unearthed, has asked the petitioner, who moved court seeking transparency in running the shrine, to vacate the temple premises.
Advocate TP Sunderarajan and his nephew TP Anandapadmanabhan have been living since the early 1990s in a building on the eastern precincts of the centuries-old temple, administered by the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.
The modest agra haram, a traditional south Indian Brahmin dwelling, also houses his office, TPS Associates.
The temple’s executive officer VK Harikumar said Sunderarajan and three other tenants had not paid rent for four years. “Though the monthly rent for his residence is a nominal R10, he has not paid it since 2007,” Harikumar said in his petition.
Around 200 families of temple staffers or supplicants stay on the premises. While some pay rent at renewed rates, others are still charged rates set many years ago.
Sunderarajan and the others stopped paying rent saying they were supposed to pay rent only to the king, Harikumar’s petition said. The last king died in the 1990s.
The temple administration filed a petition in court recently, after which Sunderarajan was served an eviction notice.
Sunderarajan was not available for comment as he and the seven-member committee entrusted with preparing the inventory of the temple have been barred by the Supreme Court from speaking to the media.
He was the first to move court seeking transparency and accountability in running the temple. Following his petition, filed in December 2009, the Kerala HC ordered the state government to take over the temple.
The Supreme Court stayed the verdict and constituted a panel to make an inventory of the temple’s treasures.
The temple had six sealed chambers. Five of them have been opened, with a treasure estimated to be worth more than R1 lakh crore.
On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered officials not to open the last vault, Chamber B, until the state government and the erstwhile royal family came up with suggestions to protect the wealth recovered so far.
Chamber B is believed to contain jewellery and precious stones worth even more than the other chambers.