New Delhi: The Kerala government on Friday informed the Supreme Court that 51 female devotees under the age of 50 had prayed at Sabarimala temple since the court revoked the ban on women of menstruating age from entering the shrine in September.
This is the first time that the Kerala government has given a consolidated figure of the women who managed to enter the shrine despite widespread protests in the state against the order.
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appearing for the Kerala government, said over 7500 women had registered online to visit the shrine, of which over 50 managed to enter the shrine without issues.
A list of these 51 women was given to the court, which was hearing the petition of the first two women – Kanakdurga and Bindu – to enter the Lord Ayyappa shrine earlier this month. They had moved the SC, seeking round-the-clock security.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices L N Rao and Dinesh Maheshwari directed the Kerala Police to provide security, but refused to tag the matter along with the pending petitions in the Sabarimala case or hear the petition against the "purification ceremony" conducted by the chief priest after the women's prayers.
Bindu (42), a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district's Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga (44), a civil supplies department employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram, had stepped into the hallowed precincts of Sabarimala guarded by the police, more than three months after the apex court's historic judgment lifting the ban on the entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its "eternally celibate" deity.
"We deem it appropriate to entertain this writ petition by directing the Kerala Police to provide adequate security round the clock to petitioner number 1 (Bindu) and petitioner 2 (Kanakdurga). Beyond that we don't want to go into any of the issues mentioned in the petition," the bench said.
Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara appearing for some petitioners, who have filed a review plea challenging the decision of the top court to allow women of all ages to enter the temple, on the other hand claimed that none of the female devotees had entered the Sabarimala shrine.
The bench, however, refused to go into all these issues and said that if the Kerala government was already providing security to the female devotees without the court's order then there is no harm if the government continues providing adequate security even after the court's order.