Will guard Sabarimala for 60 days: Rahul Easwar on SC allowing review petitions

Rahul Easwar urged the Kerala government to not allow women into the Sabarimala temple, the erstwhile Pandalam royal family said the state govt should move for a stay on the apex court’s September judgement.
Will guard Sabarimala for 60 days: Rahul Easwar on SC allowing review petitions
Will guard Sabarimala for 60 days: Rahul Easwar on SC allowing review petitions

Activist Rahul Easwar termed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the review petitions against its earlier 28 September verdict allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala in open court on January 22 2019, as a partial victory to anti-women’s-entry groups. 

Speaking to TNM, Ayyappa Dharma Sena President Rahul Easwar said, “In the 70 years of Indian judiciary, it is very rare that a review is admitted, that too for an open court hearing, so it is a partial victory.” While the five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi made it clear that there is no stay on its September judgement, Rahul Easwar urged the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala to not allow women of menstruating age into Sabarimala temple until the matter is heard. 

With Sabarimala temple opening for the Mandalam-Makaravilaku season between November 16 and January 20, Rahul Easwar said his group would stand vigil all through, noting, “We concede that there is no stay, but there is a reason for the Kerala government to stand with us in this hour of crisis. They should not let activists use this occasion. We will be guarding Sabarimala from November 15 10 o clock to January 20 10 PM. We will be having devotees from different states take turns to guard the temple, and we’ll be doing a spiritual prayer resistance as we planned earlier.” 

‘Will try for jallikattu model ordinance’

He also spoke of his more prosaic and tangible legal plans to ensure that women would not enter the temple in the interim period when the temple is opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilaku season. “Running parallel to this, we will also look for a jallikattu model ordinance. Jalikattu was given an ordinance even when the Supreme Court went against it. We will try for a jalikattu model ordinance.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday, Rahul Easwar had tweeted saying that he and his group would “stop” feminists from entering the temple during the upcoming Mandalam-Makaravilaku season. He, however, clarified, “We are not saying we will ‘stop’ feminists. The word stop is too strong and may attract contempt of court. We will resist cultural invasion from any feminist group and we will be resisting any intrusion. We don't want to use the word stop, but we want to say we will resist any intrusion into Sabarimala. Earlier we guarded the temple for 6 days, now we are getting ready to guard the temple for 60 days.”

He continued, “It is time the CM showed his statesmanship and stand with the devotees. On one side you may have 500 young activists, on the other hand you have five lakhs of people who have registered and crores of people coming to Sabarimala. So please respect the sentiments of 99%, and stop favouring the 1% of elite feminists. Please take care of 99% of people’s emotion and don’t trample upon that.”

While the September 28 judgement had allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple, violent protests broke out in October when several women attempted to do so. Rahul Easwar, however, emphasised, “Right now the case is sub-judice. So we would request status quo to be maintained, and status quo is that no young woman has entered. They should maintain status quo in the larger interest of law and order, in the larger interest of communal harmony.”

‘State govt can move SC for stay on previous order’

Meanwhile, Pandalam erstwhile royal family administrative committee president PG Sasikumar Varma told TNM, “The fact that the SC has decided to hear the review petitions and set a date for it means the SC accepts there were a lot of problems in its previous judgement. We have been discussing with our lawyers. They feel that in a closed hearing, in chambers, it is not possible to give a stay order. This [decision by the SC] came in in-chambers discussions. There were no advocates present in in-chamber discussion. Only five judges are there. So no one applied for a stay, and hence they said stay is not there.”

He continued, “The state government or the Devaswom board can approach the SC for a stay on the previous order until January 22, saying that there is a likelihood of many problems arising during the upcoming season, and that the matter is currently sub-judice. If they approach the SC saying this, it is sure the SC will give a stay. It is important to find out what decision the government will take.”

The Thanthri family head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru told reporters that he welcomes the SC’s decision to hear the review petitions in open court. He told TNM that he doesn’t know what decision the Kerala government should make in light of the SC’s Tuesday decision, and that it is up to the government, and that if the government made a “good decision” he would “bless” it.

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