The Supreme Court declined to entertain a petition filed by the Communist Government of Kerala against the High Court’s order to appoint a three-member monitoring committee to supervise security and other activities at the famous Sabarimala temple. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi which comprised Justice SK Kaul refused to accord urgent hearing on Kerala state government’s plea and maintained that it will come up for hearing in due regular course.
Earlier, the Kerala Government had approached the Supreme Court demanding a stay on the three-member monitoring committee appointed by the High Court. The state government in its plea said, “Order of constituting a team of observers, particularly when there is already a Special Commissioner (who is a District Judge), a Devaswom ombudsman exercising powers, inter alia, over Sabarimala Temple, and a High Power Committee is unsustainable in law and such constitution of Team of Observers is arbitrary, illegal and violative of the basic constitutional structure of separation of powers.” The government has strongly attacked the high court order and maintained that the police have “Effectively streamlined the protestors and has worked out a security system for the Temple, particularly on the basis of intelligence inputs” and the High Court-appointed panel would usurp the powers of the duly authorised security agency.
The state government also said, “There were no materials, whatsoever, before the (High) Court to conclude that there was any excess or, much less, any possibility for excess at the instance of any Government official, whomsoever, or any Government instrumentality, whatsoever.” It further added that the high court had not mentioned a single instance of police excess on devotees.
The Kerala High Court, on November 28, ordered to constitute a three-member committee, comprising retired judges P R Raman, S Sirijagan and senior IPS officer A Hemachandran and endowed them with the power to administer law and order and other problems faced by pilgrims.
The High Court had received complaints in large numbers about the lack of facilities in the hill shrine. Following this, the committee was constituted by the High Court. The HC asked the committee members to assess and submit the suggestions to take care of the needs of the devotees.
Earlier, the state government had approached the apex court demanding transfer of pending pleas relating to the Sabarimala Temple from the High Court to the Supreme Court. The state government alleged members of “right-wing outfits” of obstructing the implementation of the apex court’s verdict, allowing entry of women of all ages inside the Sabarimala Temple.
In September, the Supreme Court by 4:1 verdict had permitted entry of women of all age groups to the Sabarimala Temple, saying that ‘Devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination’. Judge Indu Malhotra was the sole dissenter.