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Do not stop genuine pilgrims, HC directs police

Prohibitory orders do not apply to chanting of Sarana mantras; court seeks details of IG, SP

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court directed the police not to prevent genuine pilgrims, individually or in groups, from proceeding to Sabarimala and chanting Sarana mantras.

The Bench comprising Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon and Justice N. Anil Kumar made it clear that the prohibitory orders issued under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code would not stand in the way of the genuine pilgrims proceeding to Sabarimala and also chanting of Sarana mantras.

The court, however, added that if anybody breached peace, it was up to the police to identify the violators and take appropriate action against them. The court directed the State government to produce the files, including police reports, leading to the issue of prohibitory orders.

The Bench passed the order on two writ petitions challenging the validity of the prohibitory orders issued by the Pathanamthitta and Kottayam district collectors at Sabarimala and its adjoining areas.

On police officers

The court orally observed that that it had occasion to see that the police was waking up sleeping pilgrims and sending them out at Sabarimala. The court said that the police were not abiding by the oral directives of the High Court not to prevent pilgrims from using the Nadappanthal.

The court asked whether Inspector General Vijay Sakhare posted at Sabarimala was the same officer who had been charged in the Sampath custodial death case.

The court asked the Advocate General whether Superintendent of Police Yathish Chandra was the same officer who was allegedly involved in the case relating to the atrocities against women and children who had protested against the LPG terminal at Vypeen.

The court also criticised the conduct of the SP towards the UDF leaders at Pampa on Tuesday. The officer’s ‘body language was really pitiable’ then.

The court wondered how these officers could be posted to deal with criminal elements coming to Sabarimala in the garb of Ayyappa devotees.

The court also asked whether the IG and SP didn’t understand Malayalam. If they knew Malayalam, why could they not understand the clause in the prohibitory order that chanting of Sarana mantras should not be prevented.

The court sought the details of the these officers, including their previous experience in controlling crowd at Sabarimala.

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