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Sabarimala Temple Board to Fine-Tune Legal Stand Today as SC Set to Announce Key Date

With the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala closed for a month, the action now shifts to the Supreme Court where several review petitions have been filed against the verdict on women’s entry.


Updated:October 23, 2018, 7:38 AM IST
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Sabarimala Temple Board to Fine-Tune Legal Stand Today as SC Set to Announce Key Date
Temple staff protest against the verdict on women’s entry at the Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala on October 19. (AP)

Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi: The Travancore Devaswom Board will on Tuesday decide its future course of action as the Supreme Court gears up to decide the date on which it would hear petitions seeking review of its verdict on the entry of women.

"The TDB has the legal responsibility to protect the interest of devotees. We also have to look into the rituals and customs of the temple. The board will make its intervention in Supreme Court without harming this," board chief A Padmakumar told reporters.

His remarks assume significance in the wake of the Supreme Court saying it would decide on Tuesday as to when the review petitions will be listed for hearing.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul stated this after submissions by lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara that his petition seeking review of the constitutional bench's judgment last month be listed for urgent hearing.

The famous Sabarimala temple, which opened for monthly puja on October 17 for the first time after the apex court order, has been witnessing a stand-off over the issue with angry devotees preventing at least a dozen women in the 'barred' age group from entering the shrine.

Padmakumar said Tuesday's TDB meeting would decide the nature of report to be submitted at the apex court. "Discussions are going on with the legal experts. The TDB is viewing the issue with utmost seriousness," he added.

Last week, the TDB had decided to approach the apex court and submit a report on the situation prevailing in the state in the backdrop of intense protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa after the LDF government decided to implement the order on entry of women.

The Sabarimala issue has snowballed into a major political row with the opposition, Congress and BJP extending solidarity with the believers and supporting the agitation by devotees, who included a large number of women.

Meanwhile, state Devaswom (religious institutions) Minister Kadakampally Surendran Monday welcomed the TDB's decision to file a comprehensive report in the apex court about the present developments in Sabarimala.

"It's a good decision...the TDB's move is to bring to the notice of the Supreme Court the difficulties faced by the real devotees," he said.

Attacking the BJP, he said the LDF government was caught between "the devil and the deep sea" in implementing the court order.

"While on one hand, the Central home ministry is putting pressure on the state to implement the court verdict, on the other hand, BJP workers in devotees' garb are trying to unleash violence against its implementation," he alleged.

The BJP wanted to drag the issue till the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, he claimed.

The Congress-led UDF decided to launch a series of foot marches, vehicles rallies and meetings across the state to explain its stand on the issue and 'expose' the ruling CPI(M) and BJP's 'hidden agenda' on the Sabarimala issue.

The Congress said the party would campaign for protecting the interest of devotees.

Hitting out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran alleged he was playing "caste politics" on the issue.

In a related development, activist Rahul Easwar and 19 others, arrested in connection with the protests in Sabariamala temple complex on October 18, were Monday released on bail by a magistrate court in Ranni.

State DGP Loknath Behera warned of stringent action against people who make false propaganda against senior police personnel in connection with the Sabarimala issue on the social media.

"There is no justification for the cyber attack on IG Manoj Abraham and S Sreejith, who are in charge of the security arrangements in Sabarimala," he said in a release referring to certain comments made against them.

Abraham had been criticised based on his religion while the social media trolls targeted Sreejith questioning his faith, he said adding they were only doing their duty and such messages would demoralise the officials.

Sreejith in particular has faced the ire of devotees after he escorted activist Rehana Fathima in her abortive attempt to reach the temple last week.

The temple closed on Monday night after the five-day monthly pooja. It will open on November 17 for the three-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku celebrations, during which the hill shrine witnesses lakhs of devotees converging from and outside the country.

(With agency inputs)

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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