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Sabarimala: SC Dismisses Kerala Govt's Plea To Transfer Petitions Pending Before HC To Supreme Court [Read Order]

MEHAL JAIN
25 March 2019 7:37 AM GMT
Sabarimala: SC Dismisses Kerala Govts Plea To Transfer Petitions Pending Before HC To Supreme Court [Read Order]
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Hearing an application for the transfer to itself of petitions over the Sabarimala Temple entry controversy pending in the Kerala High Court, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the government of Kerala to approach the High Court for the modification of the interim directions. The petitions were filed in the High Court against the security measures adopted by the government like...

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Hearing an application for the transfer to itself of petitions over the Sabarimala Temple entry controversy pending in the Kerala High Court, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the government of Kerala to approach the High Court for the modification of the interim directions. 

The petitions were filed in the High Court against the security measures adopted by the government like the deployment of police and declaration under Section 144 CrPC in the face of violent threats from extremist outfits against entry of women.

"Having heard learned counsel for the petitioners and upon perusing the relevant material, we are not inclined to interfere.
However, the petitioners may seek modification/alteration of the order passed by the High Court by filing an appropriate application before the High Court.
With the aforesaid liberty, the special leave petitions are dismissed"

The petitions challenge the police arrangements and the prohibitory order as an invasion on the right to worship. Further, some allege excessive interference by the state government in the temple administration, and lack of amenities for devotees. Besides, there are pleas for police protection and security arrangements for women.

Last year in November, the High Court had ordered that "all unilateral restrictions imposed by Police except to the minimum required extent to meet the law and order situation shall stand deleted, particularly with regard to right of pilgrims to conduct "namajapam" and chant 'sharanamanthra'. So far as it does not amount to any protest or demonstration or design to indulge in any unlawful act or instigating others to indulge in any unlawful act, affecting the law and order situation, there shall be no intervention from the part of police adversely affecting the rights of pilgrims or as part of "Crowd Management Scheme". The Court also appointed a team of observers comprising two retired High Court judges and a police official in the rank of DGP to oversee the situation and to take spot decisions to implement its directions. 

In this backdrop, the state government had approached the Supreme Court, stating that the directions issued by the High Court are contrary to the spirit of the Constitution Bench decision of the Apex Court delivered on September 28, 2018. The Government has stated that the Sabarimala issue has been politicised by right wing outfits; the holy chants of "sharana manthras" are being used as political slogans; bigots posing as devotees are creating law and order issues there.

The incidents of violence which occurred on October 17 and November 5 when a few women attempted entry were also narrated in the application. The interference by the High Court was claimed as affecting the measures adopted by the Government to protect genuine devotees.

Earlier on January 18, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had directed the state of Kerala to ensure that Bindu and Kanaka Durga, the two women who had entered the Sabarimala Temple on Janaury 2, are provided "adequate security, round-the-clock". On that occasion, Senior Counsel Vijay Hansaria, for the state government, had advanced that the petitioners have already been given security, indicating a note from the DCP in that behalf." Not just these two, but 51 women-devotees have entered the Temple since then...", he had argued. However, the bench had not been inclined to entertain other prayers for a direction that menstruating women between the ages of 10 and 50 years be permitted to access the Temple without any hindrance and that the 'purification' rite carried out in the Temple post the entry of women be discontinued. 

Subsequently, on February 6, a five-judge bench had reserved its verdict on a string of petitions seeking a review of the September, 2018 judgment.

Incidentally, on Monday, the same bench of Chief Justice Gogoi also dismissed a PIL challenging the fare of Rs. 49 for a bus ride to the top of the Sabarimala Temple. "Are we now going to decide how much the bus fare should be?", commented the CJ.

Read the Order Here


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