KOCHI: In a landmark decision, the Kerala High Court on Friday held that the headload workers having registration have absolutely no legal right to insist that they should be engaged for the loading and unloading of pooja articles, raw materials for making prasadam and Annadanam, and other articles in Sabarimala, Pampa, and Nilackal.
The court directed the state police chief to take necessary steps to ensure that the loading and unloading or the transportation of Pooja articles, raw materials for making prasadam and Annadanam, and also other articles and goods for providing facilities to the pilgrims in Nilackal, Pampa, and Sannidhanam, by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), its contractors and other parties engaged in the Temple for allied activities like providing facilities to the pilgrims are not obstructed in any manner by any loading and unloading workers their Unions or supporters.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice PG Ajithkumar issued the order while considering the report of the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala.
The report stated that a cartel of persons claiming to be the headload workers is causing obstructions to the loading and unloading of Pooja articles and also other articles and goods for providing facilities to the pilgrims in Pampa and Sannidhanam.
The order stated that a Division Bench had stated in categorical terms that the Kerala Headload Workers Act only applies to the establishments mentioned in the Schedule and the temple does not find a place in the Schedule of the Act. Considering the earlier decisions, the Bench held that "the headload workers having registration under the relevant statute have absolutely no legal right to insist that they should be engaged for the loading and unloading activities in Sabarimala, Pampa, and Nilackal."
The Kerala Headload Workers Welfare Board informed the court that Nilackal, Pampa and Sabarimala are not Scheme covered areas and as such, there are no pool workers insofar as these areas are concerned.
The court also directed the District Police Chief, Pathanamthitta to ensure that there are no law and order issues at Sabarimala, Pampa, and Nilackal in connection with the loading and unloading or the transportation of such articles. In case of any threat or obstruction from any corner, the police shall render necessary protection to all such activities.