Kerala Govt Withdraws Its Directive To Police For Implementation Of Supreme Court's Sabarimala Judgment
The Kerala government has withdrawn a directive issued to the state police for the purpose of the Sabarimala pilgrim season 2022-23 pointing out that the Supreme Court has by its Judgment of September 2018 permitted entry of all pilgrims to the Sabarimala Temple.
A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the matter of Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. vs The State Of Kerala & Ors. had struck down a rule that restricted entry of women of a certain age group to the Temple. The state government had then taken a stand that it will implement the Judgment despite huge protests in the state. In January 2019 two women of the age group restricted by the rule were escorted into the Temple allegedly by the Police.
In November 2019, the Constitution Bench referred the review petitions against the Judgment as well as new writ petitions to a larger bench, which is yet to be constituted. While the majority opinion did not stay the Judgment, the minority opinion of Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud expressly ordered the implementation of the Judgment.
The new directive that is part of a handbook for the Police says that the Police officers on duty at the Temple must note that the Apex Court has permitted the entry of "all devotees" into the Temple. The handbook is published by the state Police and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan handles the home portfolio in the state.
After the new directive was reported in the media, the Devaswom Minister clarified that the directive is the result of a mistake since it was printed earlier. The Minister told the media that there is no "ill motive" behind the directive and that it will be withdrawn.
The ruling Communist parties in the state had earlier taken a stand supporting the entry of women of all ages to the Temple and had hailed the Judgment of the Apex Court as reformative. However, it changed its stand after the poor performance of the ruling front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
It was reported in the media that the state government obtained a legal opinion from the Advocate General of the state that since a reference has been made to a larger bench in the review petitions, the original Judgment need not be implemented.