No room for protests at Sabarimala: HC

No room for protests at Sabarimala: HC

Lifts restrictions imposed at holy hillock but with riders

All restrictions imposed by the Kerala Police at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam except the ones required for maintaining law and order have been scrapped by the Kerala High Court.

The restrictions imposed by invoking Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure shall remain in force. No demonstrations, dharna or protests shall be carried out in Sabarimala and peaceful darshan shall be accorded paramount importance. No one shall use the opportunity to stage protests there on the pretext of being pilgrims, the court directed.

The police cannot curb chanting of nama japam or sarana manthram as long as it does not amount to protest or unlawful activity or instigating others to engage in an unlawful activity. Any attempt to thwart these directions shall be handled by the police, which are duty-bound to maintain the law and order, the order said.

Passing the order on Tuesday, the Division Bench consisting of Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon and Justice N. Anilkumar made it clear that the police could impose reasonable restrictions for crowd management.

Three-member panel

The court also appointed a three-member observer committee to oversee the smooth management of the festival during the current season and to bring back normality to Sabarimala.

A supervisory committee consisting of former judges of the Kerala High Court P.R. Raman and S. Siri Jagan and Director General of Police A. Hemachandran shall oversee that the police are given a free hand in maintaining law and order without crossing the borders and without committing any excesses, it said.

The access to Nadapandal shall be restricted to children, women, ailing persons, physically challenged pilgrims and senior citizens and the police can screen and segregate the crowd while allowing these sections to the area, it directed.

The court accepted the contentions of authorities that water was sprayed at Nadapandal for cleaning up the area and washing off the dust and dirt accumulated there, which was an annual exercise.

Facilities

All hotels and food stalls at the Sannidhanam, Pampa and Nilackal shall function round the clock.

Buses of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation shall operate between Nilackal and Pampa uninterrupted except for some reasonable restrictions, which can be considered, the court directed.

It shall be the duty of the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Kerala Water Authority to provide basic facilities like toilets for the pilgrims at the Sannidhanam, Nilackal and Pampa.

The toilets shall be readied on a war footing.

The two agencies shall also make sure that drinking water is provided to the pilgrims and others at the three places. The pilgrims shall be provided access to Mahakanikka, the court directed.

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