The Kerala High Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognisance of the violence that broke out at the Sabarimala temple earlier in November against the entry of women to the shrine, Live Law reported. The temple was opened on November 5 for rituals for the second time since the Supreme Court, in September, passed an order overturning the ban on entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50.
The decision of the Special Bench for Dewaswom matters came after a report filed by Sabarimala Special Commissioner M Manoj, who is also a district court judge. The court has appointed Manoj to submit periodic reports on matters related to the shrine.
The court also directed the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine, to provide an explanation for the violence by next week, PTI reported. The court asked the Dewaswom Board to peruse Manoj’s report.
In his second report published last week, the special commissioner had said that anti-social elements were trying to exploit the situation at the hill shrine to disrupt social order. Manoj warned that there could be a stampede at the temple when it opens again for the annual pilgrimage season on November 16.
He cited the example of a woman pilgrim, aged above 50 years, who was heckled outside the temple and barred from entering the temple until she showed her Aadhaar card to prove her age. He sought directions to political parties, organisations and other authorities to avoid vigilantism in and around Sabarimala and nearby areas, The Hindu reported.
“Lakhs of pilgrims will arrive the shrine in Makara Mandala Vilaku season,” the report stated, according to Mathrubhumi. “If the situation continues so, the shrine will turn a conflict land. There are even chances for people to be killed in stampede during violence in the shrine.”
Manoj had submitted a similar report in the High Court on October 23 days after protestors prevented women from entering the temple. He had then warned that “frenzied protests” against the entry of women is likely to lead to casualties in a possible stampede.
The court will hear the matter next on November 19.
Meanwhile, the state government strongly opposed a plea filed by Kerala BJP President PS Sridharan Pillai, seeking to quash a first information report filed against him for a speech he made earlier in November, claiming the temple’s chief priest Kandararu Rajeevaru, had consulted him on the protests. The prosecution claimed that Pillai persuaded Rajeevaru to violate the Supreme Court order.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear in open court on November 15 a batch of 49 review petitions challenging the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. The court also clarified that there is no stay on its September judgement allowing women of all ages entry into the shrine.