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Gopal Subramanium (again) offers recusal in temple case, SC (again) won't have it

The Supreme Court yesterday declined senior counsel Gopal Subramanium’s offer to step aside as amicus curiae in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple case after members of Travancore royal family who are the temple’s trustees assailed him for interfering with temple rituals and trying to oust them.

Declining Subramaniam’s offer, a bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice Anil R Dave said that it would look as he is being hounded out. Appreciating the good work done by him, the court said that he enjoyed their confidence and protection for the work he was carrying out.

Senior counsel KK Venugopal and Harish Salve, who appeared for the royal family, said that in their view, Subramaniam was trying to oust the members of the royal family, headed by Rama Verma, from the affairs of the temple.

Venugopal who appeared for Rama Varma, said that Subramaniam was trying to replace the rituals and manner of carrying them out in Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple with those practised in Tirupati temple.

Contesting this claim, Subramaniam said that he had made 129 recommendations running into 75 pages and the same could be examined by the any expert and in no way he was interfering with the rituals of the temple.

The court said that the recommendations on which there was consensus can be taken up for execution. It however said that it will examine each of the recommendations as Venugopal said that royal family had objections to them.

Giving royal family members represented by Venugopal and Salve two weeks time to file their response to 129 recommendations made by Subramanium, the court sought to assure that these were just recommendations and these are not going to be implemented straightway and those will be examined.

“You appear to be very charged,” Justice Thakur observed as Venugopal said that “the reputation of the (royal family) has been lost and that can’t be regained. What can we do about TV interviews a one said that a dead body was found in (temple) water tank. There are insinuations against the royal family”.

Taking exception to the recommendation that seeks to oust the royal family from temple affairs, Salve said that physical steps like cleaning of water tank and other steps could be carried out but on others, the court will have to hear them.

The court directed the listing of the matter 27 November.

The court in its hearing 24 April had entrusted the administration of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple to a five-member committee headed by the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram.

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