- Apprentice Lawyer
The Kerala High Court on Friday ordered that 5,000 pilgrims be allowed entry inside Sabarimala temple every day starting from December 20. (Sunil KP v. Travancore Devaswom Board and Ors. and connected petitions)
The State Government had previously capped the daily number at 1,000. A Division Bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and K Haripal pronounced a judgment to this effect on Friday raising the daily limit of pilgrims to 5,000.
The Court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging various restrictions placed on the Sabarimala pilgrimage in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
One plea sought a raise on the number of devotees allowed to undertake the journey, while another sought an "extreme" (in the Court's words) prayer of permitting all those who possessed Covid-19 negative certificates to be allowed to enter Sabarimala, without seeking any other kind of certification.
A third petition sought direction from the Court on the conduct of this year's Sabarimala pilgrimage.
The Court noted that the Kerala government's High Level Committee had decided that a Sabarimala devotee would have to produce a Covid-19 negative certificate from a NABL accredited ICMR-approved laboratory. The Committee stated that the certificate would have to be issued pursuant to an RT-PCR test within 48 hours of reaching Nilakkal, the Sabarimala hill's base.
The Court, however, deemed that the same could be enforced after December 30, when the shrine opened for the bustling Makaravilakku season. Until then, the current rule of conducting antigen can continue, the Court noted.
Emphasizing that the State government's Committee could further increase the number of pilgrims during the Mandala- Makaravilakku season, the petitions were disposed.
Advocates Suvidutt MS and Anu B appeared for one of the petitioners.
Travancore Devaswom Board Standing Counsel G Biju represented the Board. Advocate TK Anandakrishnan and the State Attorney appeared for the Kerala Government.