Sabarimala: Plea filed in Supreme Court seeking directions for safe passage and entry of women
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Sabarimala: Plea filed in Supreme Court seeking directions for safe passage and entry of women

Shruti Mahajan

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the State of Kerala to ensure the safe entry and passage of women into Sabarimala Temple.

The applicant has approached the Supreme Court seeking directions for the State of Kerala to ensure that women of all ages are allowed entry and safe and secure passage to the Temple. The petition also seeks for the cessation of the age verification process carried out by the Kerala Police. It has also sought a direction to the State to give wide publicity to the September 2018 decision of the Supreme Court which allowed entry of women into the Temple.

The application states that the State of Kerala has “openly taken a stand in defiance of the Judgment” delivered in September 2018 by a five-Judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

Review petitions against the Court’s judgment were ultimately heard by a five-Judge Constitution Bench led by former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The Court kept the review petitions pending while calling for the referral of the larger questions relating to essential religious practice vis-a-vis rights of women to a seven-Judge Bench. This decision of the Constitution Bench led to confusion surrounding the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple.

The applicant states that she attempted to take a pilgrimage to the Sabarimala Temple on November 26 this year, but was attacked with chemical substances in front of the Office of the Commissioner of Police of Ernakulam District. She claims that the State Police failed to give her adequate protection.

“The Police failed to act in time or to give her adequate protection. The Applicant is being attacked by some unlawful elements wherever she goes and the State Government has completely failed to give her adequate protection. The situation is same for any woman aged between 10-50 who wanted to visit Sabarimala, as there is an atmosphere of fear and lawlessness en route Sabarimala.”

It is averred that following the pronouncement of the Supreme Court’s order in the review petition, many media reports falsely stated that a de-facto stay on the entry of women has come into place. The application also makes a reference to news reports of women being sent back from Sabarimala and not being allowed to visit the temple shrine.

The State of Kerala is duty-bound to follow the orders of the Supreme Court, the applicant adds.

“…the State of Kerala, cannot choose to ignore the Orders of this Hon’ble Court by giving its own interpretation.  The stand of the State Government in public is a gross disregard to the Orders of this Hon’ble Court as well as violation of its solemn duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws as declared by the highest Court of the land.”

Detailing the ordeal she went through, the applicant further states that the police and state officials are in “gross contempt” of the orders of the Court and have acted against the mandate of Article 144 of the Constitution.

The application is drafted by Advocate Prasanth P and settled by Senior Counsel Indira Jaising.

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