Video Of Sabarimala Guard Violently Pushing Devotees Having Darshan- Kerala HC Seeks Action In Suo Moto Proceedings
The Kerala High Court has initiated suo moto proceedings and impleaded the Assistant Devaswom Commissioner and Arunkumar S., Devaswom Watcher as additional respondents in relation to the viral video showing the said Watcher, who was acting as a guard, violently shoving devotees who were trying to get darshan at the Sabarimala temple. It was reported in the media that the Watcher was a leader of a union of employees of the Devaswom Board that governs the temple.
The Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice P.G. Ajithkumar took note of the visuals that appeared in the visual media and observed that “the body language and the facial expression of the Devaswom guard, while shoving the pilgrims in front of Sreekovil of Sabarimala Sannidhanam has to be deprecated in the strongest words. For such misbehavior towards pilgrims, the Devaswom guard has to be proceeded against, in accordance with law.”
The case was initiated by the High Court suo moto on the basis of a report submitted by the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala about the incident of ‘Deeparadhana’, on the Makaravilakku Day i.e. January 14, 2023.
Senior Government Pleader S. Rajmohan appeared for respondent No. 1, Standing Counsel for Travancore Devaswom Board appeared for respondent no. 2-6 and Amicus Curiae N Raghuraj appeared for Sabarimala Special Commissioner.
The Court had earlier issued various orders regarding crowd management at Sabarimala, in order to ensure that a maximum number of devotees had a comfortable darshan at Sabarimala Sannidhanam. By those orders, the police personnel and Devaswom staff involved in crowd management were directed to give special care to senior citizens, persons with disability, children below the age of 10 years and also those having health issues.
The Court also referred to the directions issued in the case of Sajeev Sastharam v. State of Kerala [2022 (7) KHC 295] and observed that the Police Special Officer at Sannidhanam and also the Sopanam Special Officer of Travancore Devaswom Board ought to have prevented such misbehaviour by the Devaswom guard towards pilgrims, in front of Sreekovil of Sabarimala Sannidhanam as they were already directed to keep a constant vigil over crowd management to ensure a smooth flow of pilgrims through the barricades in an appropriate manner, causing least inconvenience to the pilgrims.
"We have also viewed the visuals that appeared in visual media. As stated in the report of the Special Commissioner, the body language and the facial expression of the Devaswom guard, while shoving the pilgrims in front of Sreekovil of Sabarimala Sannidhanam has to be deprecated in the strongest words. For such misbehavior towards pilgrims, the Devaswom guard has to be proceeded against, in accordance with law", the Court observed.
The Court after perusing the materials on record, suo moto impleaded the Assistant Devaswom Commissioner and Arunkumar S., Devaswom Watcher as additional respondents 6 and 7 in the case and notices were issued to file their affidavits.
Accordingly, the matter was listed for further hearing on January 24, 2023.
Cause Title- Suo Moto v. The State of Kerala & Ors.