The Supreme Court on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 said that it expects the State of Kerala to draft legislation exclusively for the administration of the Sabarimala Temple by January next year.
The Bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and BR Gavai reminded the State of Kerala that it had submitted before the Court in August this year that it was considering bringing into place separate legislation for the Sabarimala Temple administration.
Despite this submission, there was no progress in that regard, the Court noted. A draft Bill of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was placed before the Court only on Wednesday.
Therefore, the Court, while fixing the next date of hearing in the case for the third week of January 2020, said that it is expected from the State of Kerala to place before it any legislation it intends to pass.
"We expect that by the next date of hearing, the respondent-State of Kerala will place before us any legislation they will pass with regard to the administration of the Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Swamy Temple."
This order was passed by the Court during the hearing of a 2011 petition filed by a member of the Royal Pandalan family. The plea had raised concerns over the administration of the Temple. The Pandalan family had built the Sabarimala Temple and later handed over the administration of the same to the Travancore Devaswom Board.
The draft Bill placed before the Court proposes to make amendments to the Travancore-Cochin Religious Institutions Act of 1950, which governs nearly 100 Hindu temples in the state. However, the Court reportedly remarked that on account of the Sabarimala Temple hosting lakhs of pilgrims every year, separate and exclusive legislation needs to be framed for its administration.
The Supreme Court recently kept the review petitions filed against its 2018 judgment allowing entry of women in the Sabarimala temple pending. While doing so, the Court called for certain questions relating to the conflict between the right to equality of women and religious practices to a seven-Judge Bench.
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