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The three member observers panel appointed by the Kerala High Court to oversee and ensure that pilgrimage season passes off peacefully will have its first meeting on Sunday.

In an order released late Friday, the HC said the observers shall have overall supervision and powers to take on the spot decisions or to give proper instructions to all concerned to implement court order and ensure smooth pilgrimage is facilitated and there occurs ‘no excess’ from any corner (whether from the part of police/Devaswom/ Forest/ PWD/ KWA/ such other bodies, if any). If there occurs any difficulty in implementing the order or if further clarification is required, it was open for observers or the stakeholders to bring it to the notice of the court for appropriate orders. The meeting will discuss the High Court order and the team will take a decision regarding the time and date to visit the various venues around the temple.

The panel comprises Justice P R Raman, Ombudsman for the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards that runs hundreds of temples across the state including the Lord Ayyappa temple, Justice S Siri Jagan, Chairman of the High Power Committee, Sabarimala, and DGP A Hemachandran. They were appointed last Tuesday to make sure there were no protests any more after the temple and its precincts witnessed a series of violent incidents after the Sep 29 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages. When the temple opened twice for monthly pooja and Chithirayattam festival, it witnessed large-scale protests forcing the police to clamp prohibitory orders and other restrictions.

While hearing the 30-odd petitions, the court said it came to know that a judge was also prevented during the police check in Sabarimala and he had shown enough restraint not to report the issue.

The court said though it was not happy with the current police arrangements at the temple it will not make any observation against them. It asked the police to deal with pilgrims properly and allow them to chant hymns in praise of the presiding deity.

—India Legal Bureau

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