THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which had earlier opposed the entry of women belonging to the 10-50 age group in Sabarimala, on Wednesday did a major U-turn in the Supreme Court when the review and writ petitions from different organisations came up for hearing. The board in its affidavit stated it stands for equality and cannot object to someone entering the temple simply due to the fact she is a woman belonging to the 10-50 age group.
However, the TDB, while insisting it has not made a U-turn, said it has complied with the Constitutional Bench judgment of September 28, 2018. Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi representing the TDB said an individual cannot be stopped from his/her right to worship.
The human race has no existence without menstruation, the counsel stated. Further, he contended the base of every religion is equality and said opposing women’s entry is violation of this equality. Curiously, A Padmakumar, TDB president, told reporters the board’s stand on the issue has been consistent and that it accepts the SC order. He said the board’s stance is not binding on the position to be taken by the government.
Padmakumar said the board had earlier decided not to file a review petition in the wake of the SC ruling. TDB member K P Sankara Das told Express, “The TDB has always stood by the Constitution and it has an obligation towards the Constitution. After the Supreme Court pronounced the order, the board had decided not to go in for a review.”
“When the High Court had in 1991 banned the Sabarimala entry of women from the 10-50 age group, the TDB did not go in for an appeal and now when the SC has ordered the entry of women, the board stands by it. So there is no issue of the board having changed its attitude,” he said. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surenderan told reporters the government is complying with the SC order since it is a constitutional obligation. He said if the apex court adopts a different position now, then the government will not have any problem in implementing the judgment.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala flayed the TDB for toeing the government line. The TDB has taken a diametrically opposite position. The stand taken by the government and the TDB is totally anti-believer. There will be stiff opposition from the devotees,” he told Express.