CRC slams HC direction over Kerala Wall of Women

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Child Rights Commission Thursday criticised the High Court’s order that children below 18 years should not participate in the “Women’s Wall” being organised by the LDF government on January 1 and said it was a violation of their fundamental rights.

Children have a right to express their opinion and the Kerala High Court verdict of 20 December was a violation of the fundamental rights of children, Commission chairman B Suresh said in a statement here.

Following the massive protests against the entry of young women to the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, the government had decided to organise the 620 km long ‘Women’s wall’ from the northern district of Kasaragode to the southern tip of Thiruvananthapuram on 1 January to demonstrate the state’s “secular and progressive mindset.”

The commission made it clear that the participants, however, cannot hold infants in their arms while taking part in the programme. A division bench of the Kerala High Court,headed by Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy, had directed the state government to ensure that children below 18 years of age do not participate in its 1 January ‘Vanitha Mathil‘ (Wall of Women) programme.

The direction came after the government had submitted that all departments had been requested to participate in the event, “which in no way makes or construed as compulsory participation of its employees.”

It had also stated that no employee or beneficiaries under different schemes or programmes of the government would be compelled to participate in the campaign. No penal provision would be imposed if the employees or beneficiaries do not participate,the government had submitted.

Suresh said the court should have taken the opinion of children and the commission before arriving at such a decision. Describing the high court verdict as “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional,” the chairman said that children also have a right to gather and protest as per as the International convention on child rights, of which India is a signatory.

“The verdict is a violation of the fundamental rights of children conferred by the Constitution,” he said adding the bench should rectify its decision. Meanwhile, to counter the women’s wall, the Opposition Congress led UDF has said that it would organise a secular women’s meet on 29 December at 3 pm in all the 14 districts.

Mahila congress state president and ‘Vanitha Ekopana Samithi‘ chairperson Lalitha Subash said in the state capital, the meet would be held in front of the Secretariat and be inaugurated by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

On Wednesday, the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, the BJP, Nair Service Society and right wing outfits had organisedAyyappa Jyothi” (lighting of lamps) from Kasaragode to Kanyakumari to ‘protect the customs and traditions’ of Sabarimala temple.

The temple had witnessed protests from frenzied devotees after the government decided to implement the Apex court verdict, allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.