Sabarimala : HC Terms Women's Plea For Protection Premature; State Undertakes  To Give Protection To Genuine Devotees

Sabarimala : HC Terms Women

It was undertaken by the State Attorney that the State will do everything possible to maintain law and order and to afford protection to 'genuine' devotees, whether men or women, to offer worship at the hill top shrine

The High Court of Kerala today termed the petition filed by four women for police protection to visit the Sabarimala shrine as "premature". The Court expressed that the apprehension of the petitioners that they might face threat and violence if they attempt to visit Sabarimala as based on "conjectures and surmises".

The Division Bench of Justice P R Ramachandra Menon and Justice Devan Ramachandran was considering a petition filed by four women, who sought police protection to visit Sabarimala for worship in exercise of right declared by SC for women of all ages of enter the temple. The petition stated several persons and organizations have openly declared that they will not let women enter the temple, and have unleashed terror and violence to thwart the attempts of women to visit temple. Last Thursday, the Court had sought the response of State to the petition.

Today, the State Attorney denied that there were any lapses on the part of the police machinery in ensuring law and order in Sabarimala and its vicinity, when the temple was opened for five days last week. The Attorney submitted that criminals who came under the guise of devotees were liable for creating law and order problems and that police have taken action against them. It was undertaken by the State Attorney that the State will do everything possible to maintain law and order and to afford protection to 'genuine' devotees, whether men or women, to offer worship at the hill top shrine. Recording this undertaking, the petition was closed.

The Division Bench observed that no specific directions were required from the Court as the State was in any case duty bound to ensure safety of citizens and to protect law and order.  The Bench noted that the petitioners had not laid down any specific ground in their petition to suggest that State will not afford them protection. It was also noted that the petitioners had not made any specific request before the police authorities for protection to visit temple. Since the petition did not reveal any lapse or dereliction of duty on the part of police no interference from the Court through a writ of mandamus was called for, observed Justice Devan Ramachandran while dictating order on behalf of the bench. It was observed that the Court cannot act on the basis of speculative apprehensions of the petitioners. The Court also criticised the petition as having raised various "multifarious prayers, which were unconnected with each other".

The Court also expressed its disinclination to issue notice to private respondents who were arrayed in the petition- which included State Presidents of Congress & BJP parties,  Pandalam Royal Family, and Thantri of temple.  It was orally observed by the Court during the course of arguments that persons with different agendas were involved in the issue and that Court cannot be drawn into their battles. It was orally observed that Court will approach the issue only on the basis of Constitution. Since the State is duty bound to maintain law and order and to ensure safety of all persons, the Court said that it can act on the basis of submissions of the State, without the presence of private respondents.