Kerala High Court-appointed observers’ panel to visit Sabarimala

The three-member panel of observers appointed by the Kerala High Court to ensure a smooth Sabarimala pilgrimage will conduct a two-day visit to the hill shrine from Monday.

Published: 03rd December 2018 02:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2018 02:20 AM   |  A+A-

Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. (File Photo)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The three-member panel of observers appointed by the Kerala High Court to ensure a smooth Sabarimala pilgrimage will conduct a two-day visit to the hill shrine from Monday. The panel will visit Nilakkal and Pampa on Monday and will visit Sannidhanam on Tuesday.

Besides, talks with the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, members of the Thantri family and other outfits also will be held on Tuesday. The visit is intended to ensure whether there are adequate facilities, including food, drinking water and toilet facilities.

The first meeting of the panel held at the government guest house, Aluva, on Sunday decided to ensure whether there were adequate infrastructure facilities for the pilgrims.

“Our objective is to implement the direction of the High Court. The top priority is to ensure adequate facilities to the devotees, including drinking water and toilets,” said Justice P R Rajan, member of the panel, adding all these issues will be looked into during its visit to Sannidhanam. “The High Court has directed to lift the restrictions imposed on Sabarimala and hence it is also the view of the panel,” he said. According to him, the lifting of the prohibitory orders imposed at Sabarimala did not come under for the consideration of the panel.

Besides, Justice P R Raman, Ombudsman for the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards; Justice S Siri Jagan, chairman of the High Power Committee, Sabarimala; and DGP A Hemachandran are the other members of the panel.

TDB president A Padmakumar, member K P Sankaradas, Sabarimala Special Commissioner and District Judge M Manoj and senior officers of the Travancore Devaswam Board also attended the meeting.

The High court on Friday made it clear the 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 the High Court order and ensure smooth pilgrimage is facilitated and there occurs ‘no excess’ from any corner (whether from the part of the police/ Devaswom/ Forest/ PWD/ KWA/ or any such other bodies, if any).

If there occurs any difficulty in implementing the order or if further clarification is required, it was open for the team of observers or the stakeholders, as the case may be to bring it to the notice of the court for appropriate orders.

Kerala may move Supreme Court today

T’Puram: The state government has decided to move the Supreme Court against the High Court order appointing a three-member body, comprising two retired High Court judges and a DGP, to oversee the activities in Sabarimala. A division bench of the High Court had appointed Judges P R Raman and S Sirijagan along with DGP A Hemachandran to oversee the proceedings at Sabarimala and take on-the-spot decisions to ensure the smooth progress of the pilgrim season. The state government is likely to move the Supreme Court on Monday and the state will be arguing the High Court order was against the Constitution.

Government sources said two senior advocates will plead the case before the apex court. The locus standi of the government will be the appointment of the observers is an infringement on the right of the executive and by doing so the court has created an administrative vacuum. Government sources said the right to manage Sabarimala rests with the government and by appointing a panel of observers who will report to the court, the judiciary has overlooked the government’s responsibilities and right.  The government is of the opinion that by roping in observers, the High Court has intruded into the jurisdiction of the executive and hence the decision is tantamount to violation of constitutional values. The government decision comes at a time when the panel of observers is set to visit Sabarimala to take stock of the prevailing situation.

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