Private Bill on Sabarimala In Lok Sabha: Who said What [Read Bill]
Interestingly, the Lok Sabha was chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi (as Chairperson) when the RSP MP Premachandran introduced the bill, which he himself termed as 'historic'.
The Member of Parliament from Kerala, NK Premachandran, on Friday, introduced a private member bell which has effect of overturning the Supreme Court verdict in Sabarimala case.
The bill titled as 'Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple (Special Provisions) Act, 2019' gives definition to three terms:
- "conversion", with its grammatical variations, includes alteration or change of whatever nature;
- "religious practice" includes custom, tradition or manner of worship as existed and practiced in the Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple on or before the 1st day of September, 2018; and
- "Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple" situated in Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta District in the State of Kerala include Sannithanam, Pampa, Nilakkal, Erumeli and Panthalam Palace.
Section 3 states that notwithstanding anything contained in any judgment, order or decree of any court, the religious practices of Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple shall continue to be the same as existed and practiced on the 1st day of September, 2018. It further adds:
"If, on the commencement of this Act, any suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to the religious practices of Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple is pending before any court, tribunal or other authority, the same shall abate, and no suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to any such matter shall lie on or after such commencement in any court, tribunal or other authority: Provided that if any suit, appeal or other proceedings, instituted or filed on the ground that conversion has taken place in the religious practices after the 1st day of September, 2018, is pending on the commencement of this Act, such suit, appeal or other proceeding shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1),"
Section 4 of the bill proposes that the necessity, if any, of conversion of religious practices of the Sabarimala Temple shall be in accordance with the tradition custom, existed and practiced on or before 1st September, 2018, The bill ends with Section with a mandate to Central Government and the Government of the State of Kerala to ensure enforcement of the religious practices.
Private Bill Introduced Before Chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi Who Had Termed It 'Defective'
Interestingly, the Lok Sabha was chaired by Meenakshi Lekhi (as Chairperson) when the MP Premachandran introduced the bill, which he himself termed as 'historic'. After the motion was adopted, the MP sought permission to speak briefly, which was refused by the Chairperson.
About an hour earlier to this occasion, Meenakshi Lekhi made a brief statement on the issue, as a member of the House. On this bill, she opined that it is defective because the special denominational status which had to be catered to or had to be applied has not really been applied in the absence of which the religious practices are denied. She said:
"One is that the Hindu temples and Hindu institutions suffer because of this particular judgment. In Hindi translation of Article 26 of the Constitution,it uses the word 'Sampradaya'. So if 'Sampradaya' can be protected and if Sampradayik practices can be protected, the Hindu temples will see that the rituals and practices are protected."
"There are festivals like Attukal Pongala where men are not allowed and if Attukal Pongala needs to be protected, I think the denominational practices needs to be defined, which is the job of the house. We should define it. A defective Bill is only serving the purpose of optics creating some headlines in some newspaper in Kerala and down south. I think, we as a legislative body need to understand the difference when review petition is pending.. The debate should be on 'what are denominational practices' and protect all the worshippers of Ayyappa and rituals. Jai Jai Ayyappa!"
The Member of Parliament representing Pathanamthitta Constituency, also spoke on the issue:
"Sir, my parliamentary constituency, Pathanamthitta hosts almost five crore Ayyappa devotees in Sabarimala from all over the country in a year. The recent verdict of the Supreme Court created an uproar not just in Pathanamthitta but all over the country. I would like to bring a few points to the attention of the House. Sabarimala Shrine is an ancient Hindu Temple of Lord Ayyappa which is the second largest pilgrim centre in the world. The customs at Sabarimala are a matter of faith rather than that of a gender issue. The move to break the customs adversely affects the pilgrims and its practices performed by its devotees every year. Article 26(b) of the Constitution endorses the right of every religious denomination to manage its own affairs. The present court verdict has not only muzzled the voice of a religious institution but also robbed them of their right provided by law. Judges on the panel of this case had the same thing to say.".