Ernakulam: The Travancore Devasam Board, which manages the affairs of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, said it has “agreed in principle" to approach the Supreme Court on Friday to seek a stay on the implementation of its women’s entry order until a review petition is heard by the apex court on 22 January.
The board, which is independent but funded by the state government, made the statement after a meeting on Thursday.
The government was yet to comment on the matter at the time of going to press. However, if such a stay is granted on the apex court’s directive allowing girls and women of menstruating age to enter the temple, it would give Kerala’s Left government some much-needed breathing space. The pilgrim season to Sabarimala, which has been marked by violent protests by right-wing groups stopping women from entering the temple, would be over by 22 January.
Earlier, an all-party meeting called by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the controversy ended on a stormy note, ahead of the temple opening for 64 days for the annual Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage that is set to start on 17 November.
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At the all-party meeting with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, Vijayan reiterated his determination to implement the Supreme Court order. Following this, the BJP and the Congress staged a walkout. The chief minister also rejected a Congress and BJP demand to not allow women at least in pilgrim this season.
The BJP and the Congress are set to hold protests across the state against implementation of the verdict starting Friday, infringing on the rights of 800 women who have already registered to enter the temple. The protests come ahead of a plan by well-known women’s rights activist Trupti Desai to enter Sabarimala on Saturday. Desai is known for breaking several restrictions on women entering temples in Maharashtra. Desai says she has received more than 300 threats from right-wing outfits warning her to stay away, presenting a law and order challenge for Vijayan and the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).
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“Supreme Court’s order on 28 September is still holding, so the government has no other option but to implement the law," Vijayan said on Thursday. Asked why he rejected the opposition demand to wait until the review appeals, Vijayan said, “The government does not have to wait. We don’t want to dilute the SC order."