A the bench of two judges ruled that a five-member panel should film and photograph the objects found in vault A of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, which was opened after remaining sealed for more than a century, news agency reported.
The panel was to suggest steps for the preservation and security of the treasure, and assess the feasibility of setting up a high-security museum within the temple complex, located in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
Diamonds, rubies, gold and silver jewellery and ancient artefacts estimated to be worth billions of dollars were found in five of the six vaults of the temple by a team appointed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court said the new panel would list all the articles under three categories – ornaments of artistic and antique value, those used regularly by the temple, and those that had only monetary value.
The committee would also examine whether the last remaining vault needed to be opened at all. The vault is protected by a metal door that has been sealed for over a century. Experts have said forcing it open could damage the temple structure.
The panel would be headed by CV Ananda Bose, director general of the National Museum in Delhi.The panel was ordered to report only to the Supreme Court, and the court asked the media to refrain from speculating on the value of the temple’s treasure.
The first underground chambers of the 16th-century temple were opened in late June after the Supreme Court upheld a Kerala High Court verdict ordering the state government to take over the temple’s assets from a trust controlled by the local royal family of Travancore.
Meanwhile, TP Sundar Rajan, the 70-year-old lawyer and retired police officer, whose petition saying security arrangements at the temple were inadequate led to the stocktaking, died after a brief illness in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
Sundar Rajan was an ardent devotee of the temple’s deity Sri Padmanabha Swamy, an avatar of the god Vishnu.