The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Kerala government to provide round-the-clock security to the two women who entered the Sabarimala temple on January 2.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Dinesh Maheshwari passed the directions on a plea filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising on behalf of the two women — Bindu and Kanakadurga.
According to the petition, the two women, both of childbearing age, have been receiving threats since they entered the hill shrine to Lord Ayyappan. Kanakadurga had to be hospitalised after being allegedly beaten up by her mother-in-law on returning from the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
“Give them full protection. You (the Kerala government) are responsible for their safety. If you have already done it without the court’s intervention, then keep doing it,” CJI Gogoi told Vijay Hansaria, the counsel appearing for the state government.
Hansaria said the government had already provided 24-hour protection to Bindu and Kanakadurga following their entry into the temple. He placed in court a report submitted by the state police mentioning the steps taken for their protection.
The government informed the court that 51 women of all ages had entered the Sabarimala temple since September 28 last year, when the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the entry of women of childbearing age into the shrine.
Protesters have not allowed women in that age group to enter the temple, flouting the court order and attacking and heckling such devotees.
Kanakadurga and Bindu had stepped into the shrine in the early hours disguised as transgender persons under police protection.
The Supreme Court, however, turned down Jaising’s plea that the matter be tagged on with the batch of review petitions challenging the September 28 judgment. Justice Gogoi said no further orders required to be passed on the plea for protection.
“…We deem it appropriate to close this writ petition at this stage by directing the State of Kerala to provide adequate/full security to the petitioner Nos. 1 (Bindu) and 2 (Kanakadurga) herein which would be provided to the petitioners round the clock,” the Supreme Court said in a written order.
Jaising had pleaded that the court pass specific directions to the state to facilitate unhindered access to female devotees intending to visit the shrine.
Apart from 24/7 police protection, the petitioners had sought action against protesters indulging in violence, both physical and mental, and against social media trolls. The court did not entertain the proposal.
The CJI had earlier announced that a five-judge constitution bench would take up on January 22 a batch of 49 review petitions and four fresh applications challenging the September 28 judgment. But the scheduled hearing is unlikely to take place as one of the judges on the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, is on medical leave.