Kerala HC slams cops for alleged excesses on devotees going to Sabarimala

It also directed police not to obstruct Ayyappa devotees chanting Ayyappa mantra at Sannidhanam

Sabarimala | Photo: ANI

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday slammed the police for its alleged excesses on devotees going to Sabarimala and sought all records relating to prohibitory orders clamped in the temple complex and nearby areas.

Criticising the Inspector General of Police in-charge of Sabarimala and Superintendent of Police for the alleged action against pilgrims at Sabarimala and Nilackal recently, the court asked whether these officials were having any criminal antecedents.

The court also observed that experienced officials should be put in charge.

A division bench comprising justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anil Kumar directed the Pathanamthitta district magistrate to produce all files and records which led to the declaration of Section 144 banning assembly of four or more people in Sabarimala 'Sannidhanam' and surrounding areas.

Considering a batch of petitions on Sabarimala, the court sought to know whether the prohibitory orders were issued in good faith and whether the fundamental rights of the genuine devotees were violated.

Flaying the police for the alleged excesses on pilgrims at Sannidhanam, the temple complex, the court said there was no bar for devotees to go in a group to Sabarimala.

It also directed police not to obstruct Ayyappa devotees chanting Ayyappa mantra at Sannidhanam.

The court also pulled up the government for not abiding by its directives to the police issued two days ago and directed the government to file a counter affidavit during the hearing next week.

On Monday, in a strong reprimand, the court had expressed its displeasure over the manner in which Ayyappa devotees were dealt with by the police at the "Sannidhanam".

The bench had questioned the alleged police excesses and asked under what authority did the police prevent the devotees from entering the temple complex.

The court had warned that stringent action would be taken against police officials if such incidents were repeated.

Sixty-nine protesters were arrested after they held a "nama japam" (chanting Lord Ayyappa mantras) inside the temple complex late on Sunday, defying prohibitory orders.

Restrictions have been imposed at the temple following protests by devotees and activists of the BJP and RSS over the state government's decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.