No relevance of TDB plea in SC seeking time to implement Sep 28 order: Govt

Kottayam: The state government Friday said there was now no relevance for the Travancore Devaswom Board's plea in the Supreme Court, seeking extension of time to implement its September 28 verdict, permitting women of all age groups entry into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the plea was filed during the two-month-long Sabarimala pilgrim season as there was not much basic facilities for women devotees reaching there in large numbers.

"Since the pilgrim season is over, there is no relevance for such a plea now," he told reporters here.

The minister claimed the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had accepted the Supreme Court order.

"Don't forget the fact that TDB had accepted the Supreme Court verdict," he said, referring to the U-turn made by the board when the apex court Wednesday heard pleas, seeking review of its verdict.

He said the board took a stand in line with the Supreme Court order during the hearing of pleas seeking review on Wednesday.

During the earlier round of litigation, the TDB had opposed the PIL by the Indian Young Lawyers Association seeking to throw open the shrine for all women.

However on Wednesday, it supported the apex court's order, joining the Kerala government to oppose a batch of pleas seeking review of the Supreme Court verdict.

The minister also dismissed as "media creation" reports of differences between TDB president A Padmakumar and Devaswom Commissioner A Vasu over the stand taken by the board in the apex court on Wednesday.

Surendran's statement comes a day after a row broke out in the TDB after its president A Padmakumar sought an explanation from the Devaswom Commissioner for reversing its stand on the Supreme Court's verdict.

Padmakumar had said Thursday that the board had actually submitted a plea seeking extension of time to implement the September 28 order.

"Our counsel got only three minutes when the review petitions were taken up (in the Supreme Court) on Wednesday. When the court asked whether the board was accepting the verdict permitting women's entry, he naturally replied in the affirmative. We are yet to know what had actually happened in the court," Padmakumar had told reporters in Pathanamthitta.

"The Devaswom commissioner (N Vasu) was the one who was sent to New Delhi in connection with the case. He knows what happened. I have sought an explanation from him in this regard," the TDB chief had said.

The board's changed stand had invited strong protests from various quarters, including the Pandalam royal family, attached to the Sabarimala Temple.

The temple body had told a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that it was high time that a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of "biological attributes".

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