On Wednesday, the Kerala High Court asked the police to further ease restrictions at Sabarimala temple to allow a smooth flow of pilgrims into the hill shrine. A division bench comprising Justices PR Ramachandra Menon and N Anil Kumar gave the order after considering a report filed by the observerâ€™s group at the temple.
Some of the major restrictions currently in place are the barricading of the Vavar Nada, Mahakanikka and Lower Thirumuttam. Pilgrims are also now allowed from the Sharamkuthy after 11 pm. The High Court has now asked the police to allow pilgrims from Sharamkuthy as well as rearrange the barricades at the three places to allow smooth passage of devotees, according to a TOI report.
The bench also said that the State Police chief should remove all restrictions once things returned to normal and even said that restrictions can be re-introduced at the temple if needed.
The observers report stated that better crowd management was required at the temple as the number of pilgrims visiting the temple will increase during the peak of the Mandala-Makaravilakku season. It also stated that no proper lodging facilities were available at Nilakkal as they were currently being occupied by officials on duty at the hill shrine.
On November 20, the High Court, hearing three different petitions on the alleged police excesses at Sabarimala to ensure safety and security, passed a verdict to lift several restrictions at the temple. Devotees were allowed to visit the temple in groups and chant the Sharanam.
Following violent protests at the temple after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict which allowed women of all ages entry into Sabarimala, the Pinarayi Vijayan government imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (prohibitory orders) at the Sannidhanam, Nilakkal, Pamba, Elavugal etc, banning more than 3 to 4 people assembling in these areas. Private vehicles were banned beyond Nilakkal and people have also been blocked from climbing the temple post 9 pm.