THE SUPREME Court on Friday turned down the Kerala government’s request to grant urgent hearing to its petitions challenging the state High Court’s order on setting up a monitoring committee for Sabarimala and seeking transfer of petitions pending before the HC on the issue to the apex court.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and S K Kaul told senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who appeared for the state government, that the pleas would be listed in the normal course.
Taking note of allegations of police excesses in Sabarimala, the HC had, on November 27, put in place a three-member committee comprising two of its former judges and a sitting IPS officer for “overall supervision” of the hill shrine, where tension has been simmering since the SC’s September 28 order allowing entry to women of all age groups.
The HC said the team of observers “shall have overall supervision and powers to take on-the-spot decisions or to give proper instructions to all concerned to give effect to this order and to ensure that smooth pilgrimage is facilitated and there occurs ‘no excess’ from any corner”.
This was seen as a setback for the Pinarayi Vijayan government which had mobilised a huge contingent of police in Sabarimala to implement the SC’s order. Challenging this, the government said the HC order amounted to “interference with the executive function of the state”.
The state said that several petitions were filed in the HC after the apex court’s ruling, with regard to the situation in Sabarimala, and contended that “many such petitions are motivated without basis and are misleading”.
The government pointed out that the HC had, from time to time, set up committees for various matters on Sabarimala and accordingly, four committees — including the committee of observers — were currently active. Referring to this, it said “orders passed by the Hon’ble High Court from time to time including the impugned order with regard to Sabarimala, may interfere with the executive functions of various departments”.
The state contended that the “High Court appears to have entered the domain of pure administrative functions including maintaining of law and order in a sensitive zone”.
The plea said the “state administration has to effectively control & manage the pilgrimage smoothly which inter alia includes the law and order situation which has taken a serious turn in the entire State of Kerala, particularly in and around Sabarimala temple… The state authorities are required to take on the spot decisions depending upon the peculiar circumstances on the ground to facilitate visit of the devotees to the temple in a smooth manner. Police bandobust is necessary…”.