No interference in Sabarimala rituals, govt tells HC

Tells HC that its concern is the security of pilgrims

The State government has never interfered in the religious matters and rituals of the Sabarimala temple. But the security of pilgrims visiting the temple is the concern of the government and the police have to ensure that, the State government informed a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday. In an affidavit, the government submitted that it was bound to protect the fundamental right of women devotees aged between 10 and 50 years to offer prayers at the temple. As for the entry of women, the Supreme Court had already issued a judgment. The affidavit was filed in response to petitions seeking a directive to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) not to implement any of the oral or written directives issued by the Chief Minister or the government on religious matters, entry of pilgrims, and other matters in Sabarimala.

No directive

The government said in the affidavit that the Chief Minister had not issued any directive to the temple authorities but had only directed the police to take care of the security of the devotees. No genuine devotees would be prevented from trekking to Sabarimala. However, anyone with the intention of creating any obstruction would be taken care of by the police. Some political parties with their own agenda had started protests condemning the judgment of the Supreme Court and obstructed women devotees from going to Sabarimala. The act of such persons was illegal.
The government submitted that it had a definite interest in the matter of safety and security of the temple and pilgrims.

Huge sums

It was spending huge amounts to ensure the security of the pilgrims besides expending crores of rupees every year to keep vigil over the entire extent from Vadasserikara to Sannidhanam, at Erumely and Vandiperiyar, and on the roads and conventional hill tracks. The government added that crores of rupees were given to the TDB for undertaking various projects at Sabarimala. Therefore, it was also the duty of the government to see that the amounts sanctioned and paid were properly used by the TDB and other agencies.

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