The Government of Kerala has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order of the Kerala High Court which directed the Government to increase the number of pilgrims from 2000 to 5000 per day visiting the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa shrine during the festival season starting from 20.12.2020.
The State Government has submitted that the High Court failed to notice the fact that the Government order dated 29/09/2020 constituted a High Level Committee to decide the permissible number of pilgrims who can be allowed per day to the Temple.
As per the decision of the High Level Committee, it enhanced the number of pilgrims on week days and on weekends as to 2000 and 3000 respectively to attend Sannithanam of Sabarimala taking into account the prevailing Covid-19 situation.
It has been submitted that this decision to enhance the number from 1000 to 2000 per day on weekdays and 3000 on weekends was fixed by the High Level Committee after considering the recommendations of the Revised Health Advisory on Sabarimala pilgrimage in the context of Covid-19 situation dated 14.12.2020. This being the situation, the High Court ought not to have interfered with the already enhanced number of pilgrims and substitute the number with its own number 5000 pilgrims per day in place of 2000 per day.”
It has further been stated that as per reports in England and other places a new strain of Covi-19 has been detected after which the government stopped all flights to and from Britain. These are the precautions that the Government of India and the State government are taking to control Covid-19. Thus increasing number of pilgrims at this stage to 5000 per day will definitely affect the various measures taken by the Kerala government for controlling the Covid-19 spread in the State.
The Kerala government has further submitted that the reasons mentioned by the High Court to overcome the decision of the High Level Committee are not factually sustainable.
“According to the High Court there will be a drop out of about 40% of registrants in the queue management system is not correct. Most of the registrants are very keen to take up the pilgrimage on the day itself as per the virtual queue system. The police and the Health Department will be put to great difficulty in managing this much pilgrims though the virtual queue more particularly a number of persons of Health Department and the Police have already detected test positivity.”