N K Premachandran, Lok Sabha MP from Kollam in Kerala, recently tabled a private member’s bill seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s 28 September 2018 verdict on Sabarimala. The bill known as the Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple (Special Provisions) Bill, 2019 makes no mention of granting a denominational status to the temple.
The bill asks for the continuation of religious practices at the Sabarimala as they were practised on the 1st of September 2018. The bill further asks for dropping all legal proceedings with respect to the religious practices of the temple and also asks protection from any legal proceeding after the enaction of the bill.
It’s also mentioned that any changes in the religious practices would be in accordance with the custom that had existed in the Sabarimala temple before the 1st of September. The central and state government are to ensure that these practices are maintained.
Yesterday, while Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi had pointed out that there was no mention of granting a denominational status to the Sabarimala temple. She termed the bill as being defective and said that it “would only serve the optics” creating headlines in newspapers.
The Supreme Court’s judgement in 2018 had denied the denominational status to the Sabarimala temple, which meant that the temple was denied rights guaranteed under Article 26 of the Constitution. Meenakshi Lekhi had argued that in order to truly protect a unique Hindu tradition, as it is practised in Sabarimala, legislators must take up the task to define what constitutes a ‘denominational practice’.
Taking a U-Turn on the Sabarimala issue, the CPM has now asked the central government should immediately bring about a law to protect the ‘customs and traditions’ of the temple. They have also for an ordinance if passing the law would take time.
The CPM had earlier welcomed the Supreme Court judgement despite massive protests that were staged by the devotees. The Supreme Court had in its judgement allowed the entry of women of all ages, contrary to the practices of the temple.
Devotees took it upon themselves to protect the temple. The state government had decided to unleash its brutality on protesting Ayyappa devotees. The Supreme Court judgement on the review petition that it heard in February has been pending for almost five months now.