The Kerala government said that it will not be filing a review petition against the Supreme Court’s order to allow women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple. Addressing the media, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that they will not be filing a review petition but will ensure that there is protection and facilities for women devotees visiting the temple.
Speaking at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, the Chief Minister said that the government is bound to make arrangements for women who wish to enter the shrine. "Since the SC pronounced the verdict, it is the existing law. The government will not file a review petition against it. From this pilgrimage season, arrangements will be made for the women who are willing to go to the temple," he said.
When asked about the protests against the verdict in the state, the CM said that there are people who have also welcomed the verdict.
“Even devotees like TKA Nair and devotees who are saints have welcomed it, saying that the women who are interested should be allowed to go. Facilities for women need to be arranged. More women police constables will be deployed. If the number of women police personnel is not sufficient enough, they will be deployed from other states. How can women be prevented from entering the temple in the light of the judgement?” he said.
Travancore Devaswom Board too has decided not to file a review petition. TDB president A Padmakumar told media in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday that the TDB examined the court verdict in detail and decided that there is no circumstances to file a review petition.
"We have examined all aspects of it (the judgement) and based on the reasoning that the review petition won't stand in an open court', we have decided against moving Supreme Court," he said.
When asked about the protest by people against the verdict, Padmakumar said, “Some of the protests are natural and some are deliberately created by certain people. We don't think non-devotees will go to Sabarimala. Those who would go there are those who are aware of the customs and traditions there,” he said, adding, “The priority of the Devaswom Board is to arrange facilities for women. We don't think that there will be huge change in the footfall of devotees, but expect a forty per cent increase.”
When asked about some people claiming that they would organise a Jallikattu-like protest against the verdict, Padmakumar said that he doubts people who believe in the rituals would do that.
"If nobody deliberately creates a problem, the pilgrimage season this year will be smoother than the last year’s. We will not object to anyone filing review petition on their own, that is their freedom,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Pandalam royal family, which has an integral role in the affairs of the Sabarimala temple, has reportedly begun legal consultations to file a review petition against the verdict. On the day of the verdict, social activist Rahul Easwar, who belongs to the Thantri family of the temple also said that he will be filing a review plea against the order.
Earlier in the week, the CM had told officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board to implement the Supreme Court’s order without any delay. “No delay is permissible,” he had told officials of TDB at a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram. After the meeting, Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said that it has been decided to make necessary arrangements in Sabarimala for women pilgrims, keeping in mind the SC verdict on Sabarimala.
“Extensive arrangements will be made to accommodate women pilgrims, who reach Nilakkal and Erumeli for their pilgrimage. Although similar facilities cannot be made in Pamba, basic amenities will be provided for the women devotees. We have also decided to provide toilet facilities for women pilgrims,” Kadakampally Surendran had said.
On September 24, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court judgement lifted the ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 being barred from entering Sabarimala. The bench, in its majority judgement, observed that under Article 25, both men and women have the freedom to practice religion and that the burden of the deity’s celibacy cannot lie solely on women devotees.