Four women move Kerala HC seeking protection to enter Sabarimala temple
The petitioners also named 14 respondents, including the hilltop shrine’s tantri or the supreme priest Rajeevaru Kandararu and the presidents of the state units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, saying they were instigating violence in the name of an “unfounded ritual” held unconstitutional by the highest court of the country.Updated: Oct 24, 2018 19:14 IST
Four women, including two lawyers, approached the Kerala High Court on Wednesday seeking protection to pray at the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala, which witnessed clashes and protests over the entry of female devotees last week.
Lawyers Maya Krishnan and H Rekha, Jeejapol PS and Jalajamol PS said in their petition they were in the 10-50 age group and wish to offer prayers at the temple according to the recent verdict of the Supreme Court that permitted women of all ages to worship at the shrine in the state Pathanamthitta district.
They also named 14 respondents, including the hilltop shrine’s tantri or the supreme priest Rajeevaru Kandararu and the presidents of the state units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, saying they were instigating violence in the name of an “unfounded ritual” held unconstitutional by the highest court of the country.
They have also sought a declaration that the government is duty-bound under the Constitution to maintain law and order.
The act of respondents publicly declaring and instigating others to prevent women of reproductive age from entering the temple is a malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of the petitioners and others and the state is duty bound to check them, the petitioners said.
At least 12 women, including journalists and activists, tried to trek to the temple nestled in the greenery of the Western Ghats between October 17 and October 22 and two of them were just 50 metres away from the sanctum sanctorum.
All of them were turned away by a wall of resistance mounted by protesters, who claim women of menstrual age cannot enter the shrine because the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered celibate.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), responsible for the administration of the 800-year-old temple, has decided not to file a status report on the situation in the temple in the Supreme Court. The board also said it will wait till it takes up more than 20 pleas on November 13 seeking the review of its September 28 verdict.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had rapped the board on Tuesday for “rushing to the court after witnessing some criminal acts being perpetrated by Sangh Parivar activists.” Vijayan had also slammed the board president A Padmakumar publicly for going soft on the protest against the top court’s verdict.
Board member KP Shankardas said it will reply if the court seeks its views while considering the review pleas. It took a U-turn a day after the chief minister made it clear that the state government will go ahead with its decision to implement the verdict.
The temple is still on the boil as the annual pilgrimage season is slated to begin on November 17.
Special commissioner to Sabarimala AN Manoj had submitted a report to the high court, saying if the protests continued during the annual pilgrimage season there are chances of large-scale violence and stampede.
The temple had witnessed two major stampedes in 1999 and 2011 claiming more than 150 lives
First Published: Oct 24, 2018 19:13 IST