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  • Sabarimala : Kerala Govt Moves Supreme Court Against HC Direction To Raise Number Of Daily Permissible Pilgrims As 5000

    first_imgTop StoriesSabarimala : Kerala Govt Moves Supreme Court Against HC Direction To Raise Number Of Daily Permissible Pilgrims As 5000 LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK23 Dec 2020 9:46 PMShare This – xThe Kerala Government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the direction of the High Court of Kerala to raise the number of daily permissible pilgrims as 5000.Taking note of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of the Kerala Chief Minister had decided on October 5 to permit pilgrimage at Sabarimala during the…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Kerala Government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the direction of the High Court of Kerala to raise the number of daily permissible pilgrims as 5000.Taking note of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of the Kerala Chief Minister had decided on October 5 to permit pilgrimage at Sabarimala during the present mandalakalam season allowing 1000 daily pilgrims on weekdays and 2000 daily pilgrims on weekends and 5000 daily pilgrims on special pooja days. The pilgrims were required to register through the virtual queue system and to provide Covid negative certificate from an authorized lab.Challenging these restrictions, several devotees had filed writ petitions in the High Court. On December 18, a division bench of Justices C T Ravikumar and K Haripal disposed of the petitions raising the permissible number as 5000.In the SLP challenging this direction, the State Government says that the number of police officials, health officials and pilgrims affected by Covid-19 in the Sabarimala Temple so far is on the higher side.The entry to the temple is controlled by 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 plea filed in the top court says.”The increasing the number of pilgrims at this stage to 5000 per day will definitely affect the variousmeasures taken by the State Government for controlling the Covid-19 spread in the State. These situations of the State and the world over were overlooked by the High Court while unilaterally increasing the number of pilgrims from 2000 to 5000 per day”, reads the plea. The SLP also makes a mention about the new strain of Coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom which has led the Union Government to cancel the flights from UK.It is also stated that during the pendency of the petitions in the High Court, the High Level Committee had raised he number from 1000 to 2000 per day on weekdays and 3000 on weekends. This decision was based on the recommendations of the Revised Health Advisory on Sabarimala pilgrimage in the context of Covid-19 dated 14.12.2020.”This being the situation, the High Court ought not to have interfered with the already enhanced number of pilgrims and substitute the number with its own number ie. 5000 pilgrims per day in place of 2000 per day. The enhancement of pilgrims number to 5000 has been done by the impugned judgment without any supporting documents,and on the other hand,the number was fixed by the High Level Committee after considering the Revised Health Advisory submitted by the Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department”, the plea states.While ordering the increase of daily pilgrims, the High Court noted the Revised Health Advisory for Sabarimala package submitted by the Health Department on December 14. As per the said advisory, there would be dynamic transmission in closed places with poor air flow, crowded places and places where there is possibility of close face to face contact, according to the revised advisory.In this regard, the High Court observed :”The Sannidhanam cannot be said to be a closed place with poor air flow. When there is restriction in regard to the number of pilgrims there is no room for crowding in Sannidhanam. The only thing is that the number should be fixed taking into all the relevant aspects to avert such a situation. It is taking into account the nature of the Sannidhanam and the surroundings, the space available in Sannidhanam and the surrounding places and also the fact that from KSRTC Stand to Pampa there is a distance of about 6 kms that the President of the TDB recommended for fixing the number of pilgrims as 10,000 as can beseen from Annexure-R1(b), marked as such in the statement filed in W.P.(C.)No.23869/2020 on behalf of the first respondent. That apart,when pilgrimage is possible only for persons who got registered in the virtual queue management system it would be possible to fix the timefor registrants in such a manner to avoid crowding in Sannidhanam.Going by decision No.5(e) the meeting held on 05.10.2020 devotees would not be permitted to stay at Sannidhanam and Pampa Ganapathi Kovil during night. Therefore, it is obvious that after the darshan the pilgrims will go down the hill within a reasonable time. Then, the situation of close face to face contact can be avoided if the police personnel employed thereunder takes care in that regard. Taking into account the fact that every day there is a dropping of registration andon all day there would be decrease by about 40%, we are of the viewt hat the number can be increased a little”Considering the fact that no date has been fixed for the next meeting of the committee after December 14, and that almost half of the season is over, the Court thought it fit to make the interference.”According to TDB with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocol it would be possible to permit 10000 pilgrims to undertake pilgrimage. Seeing the permissible number of pilgrims fixed in the meeting held on 26.11.2020 and proposal regarding its enhancement revealed from the meeting held on14.11.2020, we are of the view that number of pilgrims to be permitted to undertake pilgrimage has to be fixed taking note of the factum of dropping out about 40% of pilgrims on every day”.Next Storylast_img read more