Kerala High Court raises cap on number of devotees allowed to enter Sabarimala to 5,000 per day

The State Government had previously capped the daily number at 1000.
Kerala High Court raises cap on number of devotees allowed to enter Sabarimala to 5,000 per day
sabarimala

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.

"Taking into account all the aforesaid circumstances and also the pandemic situation we are of the view that the number of permissible pilgrims can be safely fixed as 5000," the Court ruled.

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.

[Read Judgment]

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