U-turn in Supreme Court leads to differences within Sabarimala board
Differences have cropped up within the Sabarimala temple administration, a day after it sprung a U-turn in favour of the Supreme Court’s September 2018 verdict allowing women of childbearing age to enter the Kerala hilltop shrine.
A Padmakumar, the president of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that runs the temple, expressed displeasure on Thursday that he had not been kept in the loop about the latest position taken by the board in the Supreme Court.
“I wasn’t aware of the latest position. The TDB did not file a review petition. We only filed a petition seeking more time to implement the verdict and it was not mentioned at all during the proceedings on Wednesday,” he said.
There is speculation that the state government, which is for implementing the top court verdict, is upset with the president for not toeing its line and that he could likely be sacked. A media report has claimed that he has expressed his desire to quit.
Recently, Padmakumar had drawn flak from the state government for saying that those trying to destroy Lord Ayyappa, the celibate deity of Sabarimala, would suffer his fury. After his words sparked a row, he apparently said he had been misquoted.
There are reports that the chief minister’s office intervened at the last moment to ensure the TDB takes the government position and that the president was kept in the dark. Board insiders said after he fell from grace, he was not called for many important meetings.
Ahead of the February 12 re-opening of the shrine, tension is simmering with the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an apex body of Hindu outfits, deciding to restart its protests against the top court verdict and many women announcing their plan to trek to the temple.
In New Delhi, the National Ayyappa Devotees’ Association, one of the petitioners in the Sabarimala case, on Thursday approached the Supreme Court objecting to “denial of a meaningful hearing” to it when the court heard review petitions on February 6.
On Wednesday, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its orders on over 69 review petitions challenging the September 2018 judgment.
The application of the Ayyappa devotees’ association said that majority of the petitioners were heard except for its counsel who was given just two minutes to put forward his arguments.
The association said the court should “recall its orders reserving the judgment on review petitions and reopen the case,” affording it a chance of hearing.