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Kerala HC Declines Prayer To Direct Devaswom Board To Seek Review Against Sabarimala Judgment

The High Court of Kerala today declined the prayer to direct Travancore Devaswom Board to file review petition in the Supreme Court against the judgment in Indian Young Lawyers’ Association case, which permitted entry of women on all age groups to Sabarimala temple.

It was submitted on behalf of the petitioner M K Gopinath that Devaswom Board was a trustee of the deity and therefore had to act as per the wishes of the deity. The petitioner also sought a direction to the Government to file an affidavit in the Sabaramila matter reflecting the interests of majority of Ayyappa devotees to preserve existing traditions.

The Division Bench of Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar held that no such directions can be issued to the Board and the Government. The decision to not seek review cannot be regarded as a dereliction of statutory duty so as to warrant judicial interference. The decision of the Government to not seek review could be because of the fact that it had not opposed women entry as per its affidavit filed in 2016, observed the Court.

Petitions seeking removal of Devaswom Board Member Shankar Das on the ground that he had violated temple customs by ascending the holy 18 steps without the mandatory “irumudikettu” also came up before the Division Bench. However, the Division Bench held that the petitions had to be dealt with by a Single Bench first as per the procedure in Section 9(3) of the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act. Only if the Single Bench finds prima facie case, the matter can be referred to the Division Bench. Hence,the petitions were directed to be posted before the Single Bench. The Court also orally observed that Board Member can be removed only in case of “proved misbehaviour or incapacity”

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