Kerala government faces major challenge as Sabarimala pilgrimage season begins on November 16

Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government is in a major trap as the Supreme Court has decided to hear review petitions on the entry of menstruating women into the Sabarimala temple in open court from January 22.

The verdict of the Constitution bench, issued on November 13, put the government in a fix as the pilgrimage season starts on November 16 and the temple remains open for 64 days. The court has, notably, not stayed the order issued on September 28 which allowed women in age group of 10-50 years to enter the hill temple for worship.

Technically, the government now has to provide protection for 549 women who have registered for ‘darshan’ online and facilitate their visit to the temple. But devotees, head priest family, Pandalam royals, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with other right-wing outfits, have resisted the entry of women to the temple on the grounds of violating rituals followed by the temple.

The massive protests and resistance turned Sabarimala as the biggest challenge for the government and police in recent times in Kerala.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister convened an all-party meeting tomorrow to discuss the possibilities for a consensus on the entry of women of all age group into the temple. The government also sought legal opinion on the Supreme Court ruling related to Sabarimala.

The chief minister also convened a joint meeting of officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board, the head priest and the Pandalam royal family to avoid confrontation and tension in Sabarimala as the temple season begins on November16.

The Supreme Court has not stayed the operative part of September 28 order. This implies that the apex court will consider the review petitions only after pilgrimage season ends on January 20, a senior official told India Today.

According to him, the court’s silence on the violent protests sponsored by Hindu organisations against the verdict and attacks against the women devotees in Sabarimala may breed more violence when the pilgrim season starts.

“The government has only one consolation that the High Court has registered a suo moto case against protestors and has directed police to act, a senior intelligence official told.

The chief minister has also initiated discussions with all political parties including the BJP.

BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai said the party would take a decision after consulting with NDA partners.

It’s good that at last the chief minister has abandoned his retaliatory means and opted for discussion. We are with the devotees, Pillai clarified.

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Article source: Legal News

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