In a major victory for the royal family of Travancore, the Supreme Court on Monday affirmed their right as shebait of Shree Padmanabhaswamy temple.
The Kerala High Court judgment, taking away all rights of the royal family from management and affairs of the temple, was set aside by a bench led by Justice Uday U Lalit.
Reading out that operative part of the judgment, the judge said the death of the Travancore ruler in 1991, who signed the Covenant, does not affect Shebaitship of the Travancore royal family.
The bench made it clear that the principle of escheat will not apply and hence, the properties of the temple cannot be reversed to the state after death of the last ruler in 1991.
This essentially means that the royal family will continue to act as trustee of the temple and will have rights to offer prayers, have a say in the temple management.
The bench held that an administrative committee, to be headed by the district judge of Thiruvanathpuram, will conduct day-to-day affairs.
It also directed that all members of the committee will be Hindus and will function in accordance with the pertinent statute in the state. About opening of Vault-B, the top court said that it will be for the committee to take a call on this.