New Delhi: In the face of mounting protests against women devotees being allowed to pray at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee expressed the fear that if the situation is not checked it will spread like viral fever in the rest of the country and will set a very bad precedent.
He urged the state of Kerala to take strict action against the so-called devotees for trying to stop the women pilgrims from entering the temple.
Sorabjee emphasised that the SC order must be implemented in letter and spirit.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: What do you make of protesters disallowing women devotees from entering the Sabarimala temple?
A: One thing is very clear the SC judgment opened the doors for all. Everyone should accept this judgment. The state government has not filed any review. What happened to the rule of law? It is a given that one party wins and the other loses. If you have a grievance seek out the legal means. You can't prevent anyone from going there. It is absurd that because of menstrual periods one can’t go there. It is nonsense. I have never heard such a thing.
Q: What do you think is the state government's responsibility?
A: The state government is not playing an effective role. They should give adequate protection. There is no question of ifs and buts. Sabarimala is open for all. The whole idea is that menstruation makes them impure. They were not allowed to go because of this reason. I would urge the state government to ensure that the SC order is carried out in letter and spirit.
Q: What action should be taken against protesting devotees?
A: The protesters can’t prevent the police from doing their duty. I think this has to be resolved. If this continues, the country will get a bad name world over. We are a law abiding country, and so is the state of Kerala. I am surprised that this is happening in Kerala. Unfortunately, this fanaticism spreads everywhere like viral fever, we must control this.
Q: Is this a case for contempt of court?
A: For contempt of court, notice and other procedures are there. The main thing is enforcing it; I don't understand why can't we think about it. We should have a reasoned dialogue with the people and try to win them over. And if they still want to protest, they can do so in a peaceful manner. The current situation can't go on. It will set a very bad example for future. The state must control the situation otherwise it will be failing in its primary duty.
Q: Is it possible for the state to seek more time?
A: The state can approach the court if they feel so. But the Supreme Court judgment should be respected, followed, and adhered to in letter and spirit.
Q: Will bringing an ordinance help overcome the judgment?
A: Ordinance? Bringing an ordinance is not the correct way out in this case. People and political parties should make their stand clear on the judgment. I hope the BJP is not going to bring an ordinance in the case. This will give India a bad name internationally.
Q: Will the law stand and is there scope for review?
A: The SC judgment is an affirmation on gender equality. Very, very sad that this is happening in our country and in Kerala. A review petition is filed when you tell the court that it has overlooked some other judgment or provision in the case. It cannot be just an appeal. It can't go on like this. Let there be a finality.
Q: What do you think should be the approach of political parties?
A: The political parties are trying to take advantage of the situation. I am sure the voices of sanity will prevail in Kerala and the country. This can't be done otherwise there will be a complete breakdown of law and order.
Q: Are you hopeful that the SC will take these developments seriously
A: Of course, they take it seriously. The SC will reopen after the vacation and let's see what happens.