New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday declined urgent hearing on a fresh plea of the Kerala government challenging the high court decision to set up a panel to oversee pilgrimage at Sabarimala, which has witnessed protests after women of all age groups were allowed entry into the temple.
The Kerala High Court, on November 28, ordered setting up of a three member committee, comprising retired judges P R Raman, S Sirijagan and senior IPS officer A Hemachandran, and gave them the power to oversee law and order and other problems faced by pilgrims. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul refused to accord urgent hearing on the plea of the state government and said that it would come up for hearing in due regular course.
“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 state government said in its plea.
The government has assailed the high court order and submitted that the police has “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 take over the powers of the duly authorised security agency.
“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 said, adding that the high court had not pointed out a single instance of police excess on devotees.
Earlier, the state government had moved the top court seeking transfer of pending pleas relating to the Sabarimala Temple from the High Court to the apex court, alleging that members of “right wing outfits” are obstructing the implementation of its verdict allowing all women inside the shrine.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the temple, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
The temple has been witnessing violent protests in recent times. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on January 22 in open court the petitions seeking a review of its judgement allowing all women inside the historic hill-top temple.