A video of former Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra has emerged on social media in which she claims that communist governments have taken control of Hindu temples “all over”.

“.... That is what happens with these communist governments,” Malhotra can be heard saying. “They want to just take over because of the revenue. Their problem is the revenue. All over they have taken over…Only Hindu temples.”

The purported video is appeared to have been shot outside the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, reported The Hindu.

Malhotra has been on a visit to the state to attend several events, including a three-day medical convention organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital to celebrate its 75th year on Sunday, according to the newspaper.

In the video, Malhotra also said that she, along with Chief Justice UU Lalit, had halted such takeovers of temples by the government.

She was referring to a 2020 verdict of the Supreme Court in which it had upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

A bench headed by UU Lalit, now chief justice of the Supreme Court, had reversed an order passed by the Kerala High Court in 2011 that ruled the rights of the royal family over the temple ceased to exist with the death of the last ruler of Travancore in 1991.

The sprawling Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple was rebuilt in its present form in the 18th century by the Travancore Royal House, which had ruled southern Kerala and some adjoining parts of Tamil Nadu before the integration of the princely state with the Indian Union in 1947.

On Monday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that Justice Malhotra is deeply prejudiced against communists.

“Justice Indu Malhotra is ignorant of public finance of Kerala government...” Isaac wrote in a tweet. “Not a paise of temple revenues enter budget receipts, while hundreds of crores are spent for facilities for devotees and to support temple administration.”

What the Kerala minister said

Meanwhile, State Temple Affairs Minister K Radhakrishnan on Monday told the Kerala Assembly that the government has given financial aid of Rs 229 crore to various temple boards in the last few years, The Indian Express reported.

Radhakrishnan was answering to a written question raised by four legislators of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

In his reply, Radhakrishnan said that the Kerala government has offered funds of Rs 165 crore to the Travancore Devaswom Board, Cochin Devaswom Board, Malabar Devaswom Board and Koodalmanikyam Devaswom Board to recover from the losses incurred by the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2018 floods.

Of these allocations, he said, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the Sabarimala temple and other places considered to be holy in Kerala, received aid worth Rs 120 crore, the newspaper reported.

The Travancore Devaswom Board and the Malabar Devaswom Board were also given a grant-in-aid of Rs 20 crore and Rs 44 crore after the Left Democratic Front assumed office in May 2021, he added.

The Kerala government has also directed the temple boards to use their vacant lands for commercial ventures, including farming, the minister said.