EVEN AS Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that his government would follow the Supreme Court’s order on allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, some organisations on Monday filed petitions in the apex court seeking review of its September 28 verdict.
Stating that his government would not file a review petition, Vijayan said: “The government has already informed the court that it would implement the order. The government cannot backtrack from that affidavit.’’ He said “deliberate efforts” were being made to destroy the state’s unity and “secular fabric”.
“The government does not want to clash with the faithful. At the same time, the government will not succumb to the attempts of the politically motivated forces who want to foment tension in society. The government will go ahead in upholding the reformative tradition of the state,’’ he said.
His statement came a day after the priest of Sabarimala temple and the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam opted out of talks with the government on implementing the Supreme Court’s order, demanding that the state government should file a review petition or ask the Travancore Devaswom Board to file it.
Vijayan said that in the past, several customs had to be changed as part of social reform. Dalits were appointed as priests in temples and reservation for SCs and STs was increased, he said.
Questioning the Congress’s stand, Vijayan said, “Congress leaders, in the past, were active in such social reform movements. However, by taking a stand against the entry of women at Sabarimala, the Congress has abandoned that great tradition.’’
Accusing the BJP of “double standards”, he said its government in Maharashtra had followed the Supreme Court’s directions on the entry of women inside the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shignapur temple.
Meanwhile, the Nair Service Society (NSS) and Delhi-based Chetana Conscience of Women filed review petitions in the Supreme Court on Monday. Two more review petitions were filed — by Pandalam Palace, where Lord Ayyappa, the deity of Sabarimala, is believed to have taken birth, and People for Dharma, an association of women devotees — in the registry, but were yet to be allotted diary number, according to their counsel.
The NSS, in its petition, said the judgment suffered from an error as it looked at the question of facts related to the temple and its customs when it should have restricted itself to questions of law.
“The judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court proceeds on the foundation that the practice is derogatory to women,” it said, adding that “it is not derogatory, since it is not linked to physiological occurrences but to the character of the deity”. It said the “restriction” is on the deity himself, since he is in a state of Naishtika Brahmachari (eternal celibate).
Pointing out that the petitioners were not Ayyappa devotees, it said: “Such a relief at the instance of third parties, in spite of the opposition by a large section of women worshipers, is anomalous,” adding, “in this context, the submissions made against the locus standi of the writ petitioner assume great importance”.
The petition also disputed the finding by one of the judges that the practice amounted to untouchability. It said the court had come to the conclusion that the practice is exclusionary “without any discussion as to how such a conclusion in arrived at”.