The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, Live Law reported. The court also approved the continuation of an interim committee under Thiruvananthapuram district judge to oversee the administration.

A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit 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 the Travancore in 1991. “Death will not affect the rights of shebaitship of the family over the deity and they will survive as per custom,” the Supreme Court observed.

In its order, the Kerala High Court had directed the government to take over control of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, it’s assets and management. The high court bench comprising of Justices CN Ramachandran Nair and K Surendra Mohan had directed the government to open all kallaras, or vaults, make an inventory of all the articles and create a museum and exhibit all the treasures of the temple for the public, devotees and tourists.

The Supreme Court delivered the verdict on a batch of appeals, including the one filed by the legal representatives of the Travancore royal family, challenging the High Court order. However, the top court did not say anything on the opening of the contentious “B Kallara”[Vault B], and has left it to be decided by the interim committee.

In 2011, one of the vaults was opened and is believed to have revealed a treasure trove of precious jewels which is estimated to be worth more than Rs one lakh crore, making it the richest temple in the world. The opening of “B Kallara” was, however, put on hold, following objections from the royal family that it will invite divine wrath.

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The sprawling temple made out of granite, 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 integration of the princely state with the Indian Union in 1947. However, the historic temple has been mired in controversy amid charges of alleged financial irregularities against the administration.

“We wholeheartedly welcome Supreme Court verdict on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple,” Adithya Varma, a member of the Travancore royal family, told ANI. ‘It re-establishes our family’s connection with Lord Sree Padmanabha. The family is happy about it. We’re looking forward to reading the full verdict.”

Meanwhile, Kerala Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on the temple. “It is the government’s duty to implement and comply with its verdict,” he added.