Judgement of the dAY - Sri Marthanda Varma v. State Of Kerala .CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2733 OF 2020


Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram was managed by 8 priest families till 1751, but after that, the management of the temple was done by the royal families of Travancore. Even after independence the royal family of Travancore had the Shebait rights(Maintenance of deity and management rights). In 1971, the issue was raised when Marthanda Varma claimed that treasures of the temple belong to the royal family and it should remain in the temple and must not be taken by the government. Many devotees filed a suit against the royal family, as temples were always recognized as a public institution. They appealed that the government should take away the management rights of the royal family over the temple.


In 2011 the Kerala High court stated that privy purses were abolished through 26th Amendment Act 1971, so nobody could claim themselves as the ruler. It was held that the Travancore royal family could not claim ownership of the temple and its assets. Supreme Court stayed the Kerala high court order in 2011. An administrative committee was appointed to prepare the detailed inventory of the assets of the temple. Supreme Court in final verdict stated that customary law will prevail and Shebait rights will devolve to the successor of the royal family. Supreme Court enunciated that administrative committee(headed by district court judge of Thiruvananthapuram) and advisory committee( headed by former high court judge) will be constituted for proper management of the temple and to preserve all the treasures of the temple.

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