51 women of menstrual age entered Sabarimala shrine post Supreme Court judgment

Back in limelight: The Aarppo Aarthavam combine’s meet at Marine Drive on Sunday was the first public function to be attended by Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga after their entry into the Sabarimala temple.

Back in limelight: The Aarppo Aarthavam combine’s meet at Marine Drive on Sunday was the first public function to be attended by Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga after their entry into the Sabarimala temple.  

The Kerala government informed the Supreme Court on January 18 that 51 “female devotees” of menstrual age dodged protesters to enter the Sabarimala shrine besides Bindu and Kanakadurga during this pilgrimage season.

The State, represented by senior advocate Vijay Hansaria and advocate G. Prakash, has prepared a list of the 51 devotees in the Supreme Court.

“Over 7,500 women had registered online with their Aadhaar numbers, details, etc. Later, the government found that 51 women entered the sannidhanam. Their identities were digitally scanned at the temple premises. These were 51 women devotees, other than Bindu and Kanakadurga, who entered the shrine through another way. These 51 devotees may have entered the shrine by climbing the 18 holy steps (pathinettupadi) like any other pilgrims" Mr. Prakash told The Hindu.

Mr. Hansaria, responding to pleas by Ms. Bindu and Ms. Kanakadurga for 24X7 police security, said the State has already been providing them with adequate security. Ordering “round-the-clock” security for the two women, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said “if you are providing them security, continue to do so”.

The court however refused to intervene in any other issues raised by the two women, represented by senior advocate Indira Jaising, in the petition. The court declined to entertain their plea that there should be no purification rites conducted after women enter the shrine. They had claimed that conduct of such rites — as the Thanthri did shortly after their visit — was a violation of their fundamental rights of life, liberty, dignity, religion and freedom against discrimination. The court refused to tag their petition with 49 other review petitions pending before a five-judge Bench.

The women had sought round-the-clock police protection and a safe haven away from danger. Chief Justice Gogoi on January 17 agreed to urgently hear them on January 18. The petition had also said women of every age should be allowed to enter the temple without “any let or hindrance, without danger to life ans liberty and to ensure security and safe passage, police security to women wishing to enter Sabarimala temple in future”. 

It said the temple authorities should “not conduct the rite of purification or shut down the temple”. Such reactions from the temple authorities violate the fundamental rights of life, dignity, freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination of women.

Ms. Jaising had said one of the two women were scared for their lives and one of them was even attacked at her home.

The two women were reportedly the first to break the cordon of protesters who had camped along the pilgrimage trail and physically prevented women from entering the temple following the apex court judgment on September 28, 2018, which lifted the bar on women of menstrual age from undertaking the pilgrimage to the famed forest temple in Kerala durind this Mandala-Makaravilakku season which ended on January 14.

The women’s plea had come even as the scheduled hearing on January 22 by a five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi may not sit as one of the judges, Justice Indu Malhotra, was on leave. The Bench was supposed to hear the over 40 petitions and applications seeking a review of the September 28 verdict.

In December 2018, the Kerala government itself had  moved the Supreme Court accusing “right wing outfits” of openly flouting the September 28 judgment allowing women aged between 10-50 years by physically obstructing women pilgrims, threatening them with physical danger and abusing them in the “filthiest language”.

The Supreme Court judgment of September 28, had quashed Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules of 1965, which barred menstrual women from undertaking the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 2:03:12 AM |

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