Chief Secretary Told to Take Steps to Stop Devadasi System
By Express News Service | Published: 14th February 2014 08:38 AM |
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Karnataka chief secretary to take all steps to prevent women from being forced to become devadasis at a temple function scheduled Thursday night in Davangere district.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam issued the direction on a public interest petition filed by an NGO, S L Foundation, alleging that devadasis would be dedicated at Uttarang Mala Durga temple at Harappanahalli taluk.
The bench also issued notice to the Karnataka government and asked it to file a response to the petition seeking framing of guidelines to stop the tradition, saying it is a national shame.
The petition referred to media reports which stated that the National Commission for Women (NCW) has found that there were 2.5 lakh Dalit girls dedicated to temples in the Karnataka-Maharashtra border region.
The petitioner alleged that the process of devadasi dedication is still prevalent in different parts of the country despite the law against it and pleaded for the apex court’s intervention in the matter.
Referring to reports, the petition stated, “A 1993-94 survey found that there were 22,873 devadasis spread over ten districts and another survey in 2007 put this number at 30,000 in 14 districts.”
The court was told that the activity was also against the Karnataka Devadasis Prohibition of Dedication Act, 1982, and conflicts with the rights of a juvenile. Similar notices have also been sent to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The NCW has also been issued a notice.
The court asked the chief secretary and the Central government to immediately deploy police personnel to block the ceremonies at the temple. A devadasi is a woman “dedicated” to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life.