SC to Karnataka: Stop 'Devadasi' Custom

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Karnataka Chief Secretary to ensure and take all necessary steps to prevent women from being forced to become ‘devadasis’ at a temple function scheduled to be held on Thursday in Devnagar district of the state.

Published: 14th February 2014 01:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th February 2014 01:42 AM   |  A+A-

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Karnataka Chief Secretary to ensure and take all necessary steps to prevent women from being forced to become ‘devadasis’ at a temple function scheduled to be held on Thursday in Devnagar district of the state.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam passed the direction on a PIL filed by an NGO, alleging that ‘devadasi’ dedication is going to take place at Uttarang Mala Durga temple at Harappanahalli taluk of Devnagar district. At the outset of the hearing, Advocate V K Biju, appearing for the NGO, mentioned the matter before the court and on this the Chief Justice observed, “Such an important matter and you come at such a belated stage?”

The PIL referred to the media reports which said the NCW has found that 2.5 lakh Dalit girls were dedicated to temples in the Karnataka-Maharashtra border region.

Referring to reports, PIL stated, “1993-94 survey found that there were 22,873 devadasis spread over 10 districts and another survey in 2007 had put this number at 30,000 in 14 districts.”

Seeking the rehabilitation of the girls who had been the victims of this evil practice, the petitioner has also issued directions to the NCW to take steps for stopping the reprehensible practice in the country and submit a detailed report to the court.

The Bench also issued notice to the Karnataka Government and asked it to file a response on the PIL seeking framing of guidelines to stop the tradition of ‘devadasis’.

The petition stated that court’s intervention is needed to stop the practice of initiating young girls into the Devadasi system.

The court has asked the Chief Secretary and the Centre to immediately deploy police personnel to block the initiation ceremonies at a Durga temple here.

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