Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar will head the committee

KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday appointed a high power committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar for the smooth conduct of the coming Mandalam- Makaravilakku festival at Sabarimala.

The Bench comprising Justice P.R. Raman and Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair passed the order on a report filed by the Ombudsman for Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards.

The Ombudsman apprised the court of certain shortcomings in the arrangements for the festival as noted by Mr. Jayakumar in his report before the Ombudsman.

Minister for Devaswom G. Sudhakaran also requested the court that appropriate action be taken to rectify the shortcomings in the functioning of the Travancore Devaswom Board so that inconvenience to pilgrims could be avoided. The other members on the committee are the Travancore Devaswom Board president; Devaswom Commissioner; Sabarimala Special Commissioner; Home Secretary; Health Secretary; Director-General of Police; Chief Engineer, PWD (Roads); and the Pathanamthitta Collector.

The chairman and secretary of the committee are Mr. Jayakumar and the Devaswom Commissioner respectively. The Bench directed that the committee would have administrative power to co-ordinate various agencies and the board. All agencies involved in the organisation of the festival would abide by the directives of the committee.

The court ordered that the board should make available necessary funds for the smooth conduct of the festival as per the requirements of the committee. The court made it clear that the expenses would be subject to auditing. Prior sanction from the court should be obtained for expenses above Rs. 5 lakh.