KOCHI: The Kerala High Court Thursday directed the state government to ensure that children below 18 years of age do not participate in its January 1 'Vanitha Mathil' (Wall of Women) programme.
The Wall of Women, to be formed from the northern district of Kasargode to the southern-most district of Thiruvananthapuram, is aimed at demonstrating the "secular and progressive mindset" of the state.
The court gave the directive after the LDF government in a statement said all departments have been requested to participate in the event, "which in no way makes or construed as compulsory participation of its employees".
The government said it would not compel any employee or beneficiaries under different schemes or programmes of the government, to participate in the campaign, nor would there be any penal provision imposed if the employees or beneficiaries do not participate.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and A K Jayasankaran Nambiar, recorded the statement by the government that no flood relief fund would be utilised for organising the programme.
Considering petitions opposing the utilisation of public fund to organise the programme, the court also directed the government to inform it of the expenditure incurred to conduct the programme.
The government submitted there was no diversion of money from the Flood Relief Fund for the Vanitha Mathil, "which is a totally different programme under the Women and Child Development department".
Allegations of fund diversion from other projects of the government is totally incorrect and baseless, it said.
It is a campaign envisaged in the policy decision of the government, details of which had already been stated in the Governor's address and the budget speech, the government said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced that the 'Women's Wall' would be formed on January 1 from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram.
"No one can push back the progressive society of Kerala into the dark ages," he had said, announcing the decision after a meeting with over 50 socio-cultural organisations in Thiruvananthapuram on December 1.