While the head priest of Sabarimala temple and several Kerala politicians have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to review its September 2018 order, Bindu Ammini, one of the first women to enter the temple last year after the verdict, said it did not augur well for the country’s future.
Ammini told The NewsMinute on Thursday that the verdict “might turn out to be like the Ayodhya judgment” and could destroy the country’s secular fabric.
She told TNM, “It’s strange and surprising that the review pleas have been referred to a larger bench. I strongly feel this might turn out to be another Ayodhya judgment, that is, a politically motivated verdict, which can potentially destroy the secular fabric and the constitutional values of our country. It does not augur well for the country when the courts become political, and when the judiciary is politically coloured.”
Bindu Ammini, a lawyer from Kozhikode, and Kanakadurga, a Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation employee from Malappuram, were the first women to enter the shrine after the 2018 verdict. Their visit prompted the temple priest to conduct purification rituals.
On Thursday, Kandararu Rajeevaru, the head priest said he respected the SC decision to refer last September’s verdict to a seven-judge bench.
“This gives us hope. This will strengthen the beliefs of devotees,” he told PTI.
Rahul Easwar, grandson of former Sabarimala priest Kandararu Maheswararu and chief of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, said the decision was a “pro faith judgment” and nobody should interfere in matters of faith.
Pandalam Royal family member Sasikumar Varma, one of the petitioners who asked for the review, also said he was happy with the court’s decision.
“The court understood the feelings of the devotees and transferred the petitions to be reviewed by a seven-judge bench. This means there was some error in the earlier judgment. We feel relieved and happy that the SC has decided to review its earlier verdict. This is Lord Ayyappa’s blessing,” he told PTI.
The Sabarimala temple will open on November 16 and its annual two-month-long pilgrim season will begin from November 17.
Kerala’s leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked the Left-led state government “not to create issues” by providing security and taking women in the 10-50 age group to offer worship at the Ayyappa temple.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday said that there was no stay on its 2018 order allowing all women entry.
“Just because there is no stay of the September 28 verdict, the LDF government must try not to create issues by providing security and allowing women to enter Sabarimala. The state government must not implement its earlier agenda of taking women in the banned age group to the hill shrine,” Chennithala said.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the new decision will help in protecting the faith of devotees and hoped the pilgrimage season will be peaceful.
Senior BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan said the review petitions being referred to a seven-judge bench point to the fact that there was some apparent error in the earlier verdict.
“The government must show restraint and wait for the larger bench’s verdict. In case women pilgrims in the banned age group try to offer worship, government must prevent them from doing so,” Rajashekharan said.
The Kerala government has deployed over 10,000 security personnel for this year’s pilgrimage. The state had witnessed violent protests after the LDF government led by CM Pinarayi Vijayan had decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict.
(With PTI inputs)