Four women in the menstrual age group have approached the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to the state government to provide them security to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
When the petition filed by A K Maya Krishnan (37), Rekha S (45), Jalajamol P S (35), and Jayamol P S (28) came up Wednesday, a division bench of justices P R Ramachandra Menon and Devan Ramachandran directed the state government to spell out its stand on the matter.
The bench then posted the plea for hearing to Monday.
In their petition, the women, including two lawyers, submitted that despite a judgement of the Supreme Court permitting entry of all women into the hill shrine, the hopes of the female devotees of Lord Ayyappa are still in limbo.
The petitioners alleged that the thanthris (priests) and Pandalam royal family who are bound to act under the directions of the TDB were committing contempt of court by protesting in support of those challenging the fundamental rights declared by the Supreme Court in favour of woman of all ages.
The very act of protest to prevent the women of all ages from enjoying their fundamental right is a challenge of the established law of the county, they alleged.
Preventing women from exercising the religious right of worship was punishable with imprisonment of three years under Sec 295A of The Indian Penal Code (IPC), they added.
The Sabarimala temple, which opened for the monthly pooja on October 17 after the Supreme Court order, had witnessed a stand-off over the issue with angry devotees preventing at least a dozen women in the "barred" age group from entering the shrine.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.