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T. P. Sundarrajan, whose legal battle led to the opening of the long-shut vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram where priceless treasures have been found, died in the wee hours on Sunday.

A bachelor, Sundarrajan was 70. He had been suffering from fever for the last two days, relatives said.

A former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Sundarrajan had also served in the Intelligence Bureau and security staff of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He later quit IPS and settled down in Thiruvananthapuram.

It was Sundrrajan who initiated the legal battle for transparency in preservation and protection of the assets of the temple, managed by a trust under the erstwhile Travancore royal house.

The case took a decisive turn when the Kerala High Court in February ordered the State to take over the temple.

Later, the Supreme Court, while considering an appeal by the trustees, ordered an interim stay of the High Court decision but asked the temple cellars to be opened and the priceless wealth stored there, whose value was believed to be over Rs. one lakh crore, to be inventoried.

Following this, a seven-member panel of observers including two former Judges of the Kerala High Court was formed to go about the job of opening the secret chambers.

Sundarrajan, whose father was a legal advisor to Travancore royal family, had been staying in a house close to the temple complex for the last few decades.

The Supreme Court had on Friday reserved its interim orders on the question of permitting inventory of one more vault of the temple which is yet to be opened.

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