The Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court challenging a verdict by the state’s High Court directing it to increase the number of pilgrims allowed each day into the Sabarimala temple to 5,000, reported PTI.

The state government in its petition said that a committee headed by the chief minister had decided on December 14 to cap the number of pilgrims to 2,000 on weekdays and 3,000 on weekends. The decision was taken keeping in mind the objective to keep the coronavirus situation under control during the Sabarimala temple festival season between December 20 and January 14.

However, the High Court on December 18 directed the government to increase the number of pilgrims to 5,000 per day, while hearing a batch of writ petitions seeking to raise the government’s cap.

The plea filed by the Kerala government in the Supreme Court submitted that the High Court’s decision was made without considering any proper report or other documents. It also pointed out that a number of police officials, health officials and pilgrims have been affected by the coronavirus in the temple. The petition said that an increase in number of pilgrims would put police personnel and officials of the health department in great strain and difficulty, PTI reported. The plea also sought a stay on the High Court order, as an interim relief.

Meanwhile, India recorded 24,712 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking its total to 1,01,23,778. Less than 3 lakh people are currently infected with the coronavirus, the health ministry said. A total of 1,46,756 people have died of the coronavirus in the country, with 312 of those deaths coming in the last 24 hours, the data showed.

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