Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party President PS Sreedharan Pillai on Friday moved the High Court seeking to quash a first information report that the police had filed against him the day before for a controversial speech on the Sabarimala protests.
In a video of the speech that emerged on Monday, Pillai claimed to have told the temple head priest that shutting the shrine if women were allowed entry would not invite contempt of court.
The Kasaba Police registered a non-bailable case against him for his closed-door address to party workers in Kozhikode on Sunday, Manorama Online reported. The case was filed on a complaint by Kozhikode-based journalist Shybin Nanminda.
On Friday, Pillai said he had not made any statement with intention to cause fear or alarm among any section of the public, PTI reported. The BJP leader presented the clip in the court, and said he had clearly told his party workers that the protests should be non-violent. However, the media published an edited version of the speech, he alleged. Pillai said he cannot be held liable for “media interpretations given to edited portions” of his speech.
In the video, Pillai, a criminal lawyer and legal consultant, said Sabarimala’s chief priest Kandararu Rajeevaru had contacted him before declaring that he would shut the temple if customs were violated. “I told him you are not alone,” Pillai had purportedly said. “This won’t be contempt of court. If there is contempt of court case registered, then it will be against us first. There will be tens of thousands of people with you.”
Pillai had also said that Sabarimala was a “golden opportunity” for the BJP. The state party chief claimed protests from October 17 to October 22 were “somewhat planned and executed by the BJP”. He said the party’s state general secretaries were deputed to specific locations and that “they successfully completed their mission”.
On Monday, the BJP leader defended his decision to advise Rajeevaru. “So what? I am a lawyer too, he had taken a legal opinion from me,” Pillai told ANI. The chief priest, however, denied having such a discussion with Pillai.
Protests broke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow women of menstruating age to enter the temple after the shrine opened for monthly rituals on October 17. Protestors stopped women from entering the temple and clashed with the police. The state units of the BJP and Congress have opposed the verdict.
On Thursday, the Kerala High Court said the demonstrations were unacceptable and went against the top court’s judgement. It also rejected a plea that wanted the Devaswom Board to seek a review of the verdict.
Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, on Thursday sought an explanation from the head priest on the matter.