Royal Family Wins Right to Indian Temple With $20 Billion Riches
(Bloomberg) -- India’s top court allowed a royal family in the southern state of Kerala rights to a temple, which has treasures worth over $20 billion in its vaults, bringing an end to an 11-year-old legal tussle over the running of an ancient place of worship.
The Supreme Court overruled a lower judiciary verdict, which had handed rights to the 17th-century Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple to the provincial government. A petition by a section of devotees alleging mismanagement prompted the opening of the temple’s vaults, leading to the discovery of a huge cache of gold, diamonds, and precious stones. Opening of the sixth and final vault was stopped by the top court on security and preservation concerns.
The royal family traces its roots to before India’s independence from British rule in 1947. Travancore, as the princely state was called then, was merged into the union after the former king signed an agreement of accession in 1949.
Following a suggestion by the royal descendants, the court agreed on Monday to have an administrative panel to preserve and maintain the temple. It will also consider whether the final vault is to be opened to assess its inventory. The temple’s income from offerings will be invested to “fetch reasonable returns and ensure that the properties of the Temple are completely safe and secure,” the verdict said.
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