Coming down heavily on the state government, the Kerala High Court Monday made it clear that it had no right to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and its role was confined to maintaining law and order in the area.
The criticism came hours before the temple opened in the evening for the special "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" puja Tuesday, marking the birthday of the last king of Travancore -- Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. The temple will close at 10 pm Tuesday.
This is the second time the shrine opened for "darshan" after the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of all ages into it.
A plea was filed by Ramesh of Mylapore in Tamil Nadu, seeking a direction from the court that the government and the chief minister had no authority to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the shrine.
When it came up for hearing, the court clarified that the government's role was confined to maintaining law and order in the area.
It could not interfere with the affairs of the temple management and dictate to the Devaswom (temple administration) Board, a division bench comprising justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar said.
Criticising the police for writing down the names and addresses of all the pilgrims who were on their way to Sabarimala for the special pooja, the court asked whether the government intended to "conduct something else".
It also questioned the police action of preventing the media from carrying out their professional duties at Sabarimala.
Though the government reiterated that there was no ban imposed on the media, the court expressed its displeasure.
It also said no harassment under the guise of implementing the Supreme Court verdict should be meted out to the pilgrims.
"You can't cause hardships to pilgrims," the court said and directed the government to file a detailed affidavit.
The division bench stressed the need to maintain the rule of law at Sabarimala.
On the police action in Nilackal during the monthly pooja last month, the court said from the materials available, it could be seen that a group of police personnel was indulging in damaging two-wheelers parked on the roadside.
Prima facie, it could not be treated as discharge of official duty, the bench said and directed the state attorney to provide a list with the names of those involved.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place in the backdrop of protests staged by devotees and Hindu outfits from October 17-22, opposing the Left government's decision to implement the apex court verdict permitting women of all ages to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)