NEW DELHI: Former chairman of the Supreme Court Committee on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasures, C V Ananda Bose, said on Monday that the apex court's verdict upholding the Travancore royal family's right to administer the temple was "landmark", and possibly a "game changer".
Bose, a retired IAS official, said it would be a landmark judgement as it would lead to consensus in society as far as religion and politics are concerned.
"A game changer which will value faith and religion, rituals and will respect heritage," he said while speaking to PTI over the phone.
The Supreme Court Monday upheld the rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, considered to be one of the richest temples in the country.
It set aside the Kerala High Court's 2011 verdict which had directed the state government to set up a trust to take control of management and assets of the temple.
As an interim measure, the District Judge of Thiruvananthapuram will head an administrative committee to manage the temple's affairs, it said.
The top court delivered the verdict on a batch of appeals, including the one filed by legal representatives of the Travancore royal family, challenging the January 31, 2011 verdict of the high court.
Bose said the apex court verdict is not just about who should govern a temple, but it is about credibility of the persons managing the administration.
He said that for the last so many centuries, the Travancore royal family has been able to reflect a high degree of credibility in the administration of the temple and also protecting the huge treasure in its vault.
He said it also ensured that the rituals and practices are protected and carried out without any hindrance.
On the treasure stored in the temple vault, Bose said the royal family for centuries has been protecting it and even hid it from the "ogling look" of the British who in 1811 decided to take over the temple administration.
He said the British decided to take over the temple administration "ostensibly" to support the temple, which was finding it difficult to make ends meet, but it was actually done as the temple could not pay the taxes it owed to the British government.
Even at that time the royal family protected the treasures and therefore, they should not be excluded from its administration, he said.
Bose further said that while he was heading the committee set up by the apex court, he had pointed out "certain pitfalls and deficiencies" in the administration, but these were only management issues.
He said that somewhere some lacunae were found and people who came after him quantified the implications of the irregularities in the administration.
"But these are administrative lapses which have to be plugged. That does not mean the royal family has done it.
Responsibility has to be fixed, but the way to do that is not by drawing out (removing) the royal family which guarded the treasures," he said.
On the issue of protecting faith and rituals of the temple, he said these are part of the heritage of a country and "no can legislate it out".
"Religion and faith are purely private affairs. Politics should not interfere in faith and faith should not interfere in politics," he added.
Bose also said the verdict has not only brought "solace" to millions of devotees, it also reflects "our sense of justice and respect for truth".
He said that the judgement has given a "big message" that there should be consensus and social integration in society.
"I think this may even lead to setting up social integration councils in the country where all religions are represented and they are given an opportunity to express their views before the government takes a decision in such (religious) matters.
"This is very important. Discussion should precede a decision, I think, in matters of religion, in matters of faith and temple administration," he said.
The sprawling Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, an architectural splendour in 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.