Kerala High Court: In the matter of Travancore Devaswom Board(‘TDB') of Sabarimala Temple regarding the misbehaviour of a TDB guard to devotees having darshan on Makara Sankranti, the division bench of Anil K. Narendran and P.G. Ajithkumar , JJ. said that the body language and the facial expression of the guard, while shoving the pilgrims has to be deprecated in the strongest words and for such misbehavior towards pilgrims, the guard must proceed against, in accordance with law.
As per the visuals appeared in visual media, the guard violently pushed the devotees having darshan. The guard, who misbehaved with devotees has been relieved from duty at Sabarimala and sent back to his home station on 15-01-2023.
The Court relied on Sajeev Sastharam v. State of Kerala 2022 (7) KHC 295, wherein it directed the Guards engaged by the TDB and the Police Officers on duty at Sopanam to regulate the movement of pilgrims through the barricades, in an appropriate manner, causing least inconvenience to the pilgrims.
The Court, after viewing the visuals that appeared in visual media, said that the body language and the facial expression of the guard, while shoving the pilgrims has to be deprecated in the strongest words. For such misbehavior towards pilgrims, the guard must proceed against, in accordance with law.
The Court said that in Suo Motu v. State of Kerala, SSCR No.23 of 2022, various orders were issued on crowd management at Sabarimala, in order to ensure that maximum number of devotees have a comfortable darshan at Sabarimala Sannidhanam. By those orders, the police personnel and Devaswom staff involved in crowd management are directed to give special care to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, children below the age of 10 years and those having health issues.
The Court said that in terms of the direction contained in Sajeev Sastharam (supra), the Police Special Officer at Sannidhanam and the Sopanam Special Officer of Travancore Devaswom Board ought to have prevented such misbehavior by the guard towards pilgrims.
The matter will next be taken up on 24-01-2023.
[Suo Motu v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine Ker 295, order dated 16-01-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Respondents: Senior Government Pleader S. Rajmohan
Amicus Curiae for Sabarimala Special Commissioner: N Raghuraj
*Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.