J. Venkatesan

High Court ordered that no special queue be allowed at Sabarimala

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Kerala Government and others on a special leave petition against a Kerala High Court order directing the Executive Officer, Sabarimala temple, to see that there was no special queue in front of the sanctum sanctorum for the VIPs to have 'darshan' of Lord Ayyappa.

A Bench, comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Tarun Chatterjee, also issued notice on the application seeking stay of the operation of the judgment returnable in three weeks after counsel V. Mohana, appearing for the petitioner, pleaded for the stay of the High Court order on the ground that it greatly affected the pilgrims.

The High Court had passed the order on December 19 acting on a report filed by the Special Commissioner for Sabarimala. According to the report, the pilgrims standing in the regular queue faced lot of difficulties because of the special queue. They could not have the 'darshan' of Lord Ayyappa, as their vision was blocked by the people standing in the special queue inside the cabin in front of the sanctum sanctorum. In their SLP, Ravikumar and Rajam Krishnan submitted that lakhs of devotees coming from far-off places to Sabarimala were now prevented from performing special pujas. They were now being asked to go to the queue and stand in line with the general queue and not allowed to take part in the special puja offered by them.

No interference

The SLP contended that the appointment of the Special Commissioner was only for administrative reasons and it was not for any interference with the method and manner of function of the pujas, darshan, and the like.

The Commissioner's report had the effect of interfering with the religious practice being followed from time immemorial by ordinary pilgrims.

The SLP said that the High Court judgment had resulted in a situation where the devotees carrying 'Irumudi' and standing in long queue for special pujas would have to go back to another long queue after giving the puja items for having darshan.

It said the order restraining the devotees from entering into the cabin for having darshan of the Lord would have to be set aside. The SLP also sought quashing of the impugned judgment.