- Protests in Kerala against verdict lifting ban on women's entry
- Top court lifted centuries-old ban on entry of women of menstruating age
- Nair Service Society too will file a review petition today
Two petitions challenging the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages inside Kerala's Sabarimala temple was filed in the top court today amid mounting protests in the state. Seeking a review of last month's judgment lifting the centuries-old ban, one of the petitioners said the verdict can't be a match for the voice of the people. The Nair Service Society, a body of Kerala's influential Nair community, also approached the court, challenging its verdict.
The other petitioner, the president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association, said those who had approached the Supreme Court for lifting the age restriction on women are not devotees of Lord Ayyappa, the temple's chief deity. In her petition, Shylaja Vijayan said the Supreme Court verdict affects the fundamental rights of millions of devotees of Ayyappa.
"The petitioners believe that no legal luminary, not even the greatest of jurists or a judge, can be a match to the common sense and wisdom of the masses. No judicial pronouncement, even of the highest judicial tribunal in this country... can be a match for 'the voice of the people'," the petition read.The petitioner is not a party to the case in the top court.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan criticised those protesting and said the state government will implement the Supreme Court verdict. "Filing a review petition is against the stand. It is the responsibility of the government to implement the verdict of the Supreme Court. It is not the policy of the government to fight with believers. Their interest will be protected. The government is ready for discussion," Mr Vijayan said at a press conference. "The people of Kerala faced the recent unprecedented floods unitedly but deliberate efforts are now being made to destroy that unity, to destroy the secular fabric," he said.
The representatives of the Sabarimala temple's chief priest are skipping a key meeting called by Mr Vijayan today to discuss the September 28 verdict as protests by against the verdict continued in several parts of Kerala.
Hundreds of devotees took part in marches last week, chanting the name of Ayyappa, protesting the ruling Left government's decision to implement the top court verdict without going for a review.
Another devotee group has said hundreds of its members will lie down at the entrance of the Sabarimala temple to stop women of menstruating age from entering when it re-opens on October 17.
"Hundreds of our men will lie down at the entry point of the hill when the temple opens at 5 pm on October 17 for the pooja, or prayer ceremony, said Rahul Easwar, chief of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena and the grandson of a former chief priest at Sabarimala.
The the five judge Constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, while lifting the ban, said it was upholding rights to equality of worship. The court had said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women.
The temple authorities had said the ban was essential to the rites related to Ayyappa, considered eternally celibate.
(With inputs from Reuters and PTI)