Kerala govt moves SC against HC order increasing number of pilgrims to Sabarimala temple

The Kerala government said that the Kerala HC’s order allowing 5,000 pilgrims to enter Sabarimala temple, is going against the Revised Health Advisory to fight Covid-19
Police and other officials during a meeting held on the premises of the Sabarimala Temple
Police and other officials during a meeting held on the premises of the Sabarimala TempleFacebook

The Kerala government, on Thursday, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Kerala High Court order to increase the number of Sabarimala pilgrims to 5,000 daily.

In its petition, the Kerala government has said that the Kerala HC’s December 18 order is going against the State Health and Family Welfare Department’s issued Revised Health Advisory against Covid-19.

The Kerala government, in its plea, said that increasing the number of pilgrims to 5,000 will be putting a “great strain” on police officers and health workers, currently deployed at Sabarimala. "Entry to the temple is controlled by a virtual queue managed by the police personals and pilgrims are tested for Covid-19 before allowing them to enter the temple. Increase in the number of pilgrims will put the police personal and the officials of the health department in great strain and difficulty in controlling the pilgrims of this magnitude," the petition says.

In its petition, the government also informs the apex court that a high-level committee led by the Chief Secretary is looking at all aspects considering the Covid-19 situation. The committee will be fixing the number of pilgrims who will be permitted to visit the shrine per day during December 20 and January 14, 2021. Currently, 2,000 pilgrims are allowed to visit the hill shrine on weekdays and 3,000 pilgrims on weekends.

The government has also pointed out the discovery of the new coronavirus strain, found in the United Kingdom recently, which led the central government to cancel all flight from and to the UK. The Kerala government has appealed to the Supreme Court to consider this and set aside the High Court order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at Sabarimala.

On December 18, the Kerala HC ruled that 5,000 pilgrims be allowed inside the Sabarimala temple from December 20. The High Court’s order came after several petitions were filed before the court, challenging the restrictions placed on Sabarimala pilgrims due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the past few weeks, Sabarimala has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases among police officers and pilgrims visiting the temple. Seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases, the Travancore Dewaswom Board decided to make RT-PCR Covid-19 test certificates mandatory for pilgrims from December 26. If pilgrims fail to produce RT-PCR certificates, they will not be allowed to climb the hill.

The NationWide