The Travancore Dewasom Board (TDB) has decided to move the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its September order that removed a ban on women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
The move by the Board that runs the administration of the hill shrine is seen as an attempt to bring respite to the raging protest by the devotees who want to keep the women aged between 10 and 50 off the bounds of the temple because the deity Lord Ayyappa is a celibate.
The Board President A Padma Kumar today said the petition will be filed in the top court on Monday. The Supreme Court will hear a clutch of petitions seeking a review of its historic September order on January 22. But the top court had turned down requests to put its ruling on hold.
The Board that had earlier refused to file a review petition in the top court, however, softened its position after a meeting of its members to take stock of the situation arising out of the court order.
This move by the Board could also give an escape route to the Left-led government that had rejected suggestions by opposition parties that it seeks time from the top court to implement the order during an all-party meeting yesterday. The state government has said it is duty-bound to implement the Supreme Court order. It has also pointed out that no statement government in the past challenged a Kerala High Court order in 1991 that had favoured the restriction on women in menstruating age entering Sabarimala temple. The two-month long main pilgrim season at the Sabarimala temple started today.
Over a dozen women in the menstruating age have tried and failed to enter the temple as protesters fought street-fights with police to prevent them from entering the temple.
The head-priest at the temple Kandara Ravjeevaru has welcomed the decision by the Board. He said women in the age group of 10 and 50 should not make any attempt to enter the temple before the top court gives its ruling on the petition filed by the Board.
The Dewasom Board has also objected to a slew of measures proposed by the Kerala police in Sabarimala that included not keeping the shops open at night.
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