DBP No. 91/2022.
Suo Motu v. State of Kerala.
DATE OF ORDER:
13 December 2022.
Mr. Justice Anil K. Narendran.
Petitioner: Petitioner: Suo Motu.
Respondent: State of Kerala and Ors.
In the present case, the DBP was registered suo motu which arised over a complaint by a devotee of Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple on 30 November 2022. This was mailed to the Registrar General of the High Court of Kerala. The complaint was regarding the pilgrims who were bringing posters and huge photographs of celebrities, politicians, etc. at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam.
BRIEF OF THE JUDGEMENT
- Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is a prominent pilgrim centre in Kerala where lakhs of pilgrims trek the rugged terrains of Western Ghats to have a darshan of Lord Ayyappa. This temple is situated inside Periyar Tiger Reserve. It comes under the authority of Travancore Devaswom Board.
- The Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950 enacted by the State Legislature makes provision for the administration, supervision and control of incorporated and unincorporated Devaswoms and of other Hindu Religious Endowments and Funds. The duties of the Board are stated under Section 15A of the Act which are as follows-
- To see that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies according to the practice prevalent in the religious institutions are performed promptly.
- To monitor whether the administrative officials and employees and also the employees connected with religious rites are functioning properly.
- To ensure proper maintenance and upliftment of the Hindu religious institutions.
- To establish and maintain proper facilities in the temples for the devotees.
- Section 24 and Section 31 of the Act deals with the maintenance and management of Devaswoms.
- Therefore according to the provisions of Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, the Travancore Devaswom Board is duty bound to observe the following two-
- To see that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies according to the practice prevalent in Sabarimala are performed promptly.
- To establish and maintain proper facilities in Sabarimala for the devotees.
- The Court has mentioned the meaning of a ‘worshipper’ from the Oxford Dictionary which refers to a person who shows reverence and adoration for a deity. Every citizen has a right to worship but it is subjected to an accustomed manner and practice and tradition in each temple.
- The Court has referred the case of Sajeev Sastharam v. State of Kerala and others [2022 (7) KHC 295: 2022/KER/64654] to define the term “worshipper”.
- By referring to the case of Sajeev Sastharam [2022 (7) KHC 295], the Court again cleared the meaning of the term “worshipper” and stated that no pilgrim can be permitted to enter the Sabarimala Sannidhanam carrying posters and huge photographs of celebrities, politicians, etc.
- Consequently, a news item appeared in online media of the performance made by a drummer named Sivamanu infront of the Sopanam of Sabarimala Sannidhanam. As per the news item, the video of playing drum at the time of opening of Sanctum Sanctorum had gone viral on Youtube.
- The learned Standing Counsel for Travancore Devaswom Board submitted that the Sopanam Officer should not have permitted the playing of drum by a pilgrim infront of the Sopanam of Sabarimala Sannidhanam. A show cause notice was issued to the Sopanam officer regarding the same. The Board was directed to take necessary steps to ensure that such incidents won’t get repeated in the future.
- The Court disposed the present DBP and directed the Travancore Devaswom Board to take necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated again.
It was very disgraceful on the part of the pilgrims who has committed such incident. The present case was a sheer disrespect shown to the essence of the almighty. The Court has taken the correct steps by directing the concerned authority to look into such matter.
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