HC asks KSRTC to increase bus services to Sabarimala

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Kochi: The Kerala High Court here on Saturday directed the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to increase its bus services to Sabarimala in view of the mandala pilgrimage season. The court also directed authorities to take effective measures to reduce the heavy rush experienced in Pamba and Nilakkal.

Kerala High Court has asked the Travancore Devaswom Board, Pathanamthitta district collector and district police chief to take immediate action to resolve the issue.

Currently, KSRTC services in Nilakkal and Pamba are experiencing a heavy rush due to a steep increase in the number of pilgrims to the hill shrine. Further, the lack of enough KSRTC bus services to the Sabarimala temple has worsened the situation.

As a result, devotees from distant places as well as senior citizens are facing a tough time. After learning about the commutation woes of the Sabarimala pilgrims, the High Court decided to consider the matter and directed concerned parties to take measures to resolve the current crisis.

The district Collector and the district police chief shall make proper arrangement for pilgrims at Pamba in consultation with the special commissioner for Sabarimala and the arrangement so made should be brought to the notice of this court by Monday," the court said.

The court noted the TDB's submission that nine temporary CCTV cameras were installed at Nilakkal and 12 at Pamba, which are being monitored at the respective police control rooms.

The HC bench asked the KSRTC to provide enough buses for the pilgrims and ensure that the aged and disabled people get priority in boarding the bus.

It also directed the KSRTC to make sure that the buses carry only permissible number of passengers.

Meanwhile, a Bench comprising Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajith Kumar held the special sitting to hear a petition challenging a Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) notification that 'melshanti' (chief priest) of Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples must be Kerala-born Brahmins.

The petitioners contended that the notification seeking application from Malayali Brahmins for the particular posts were against the Right to Equality under the Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

The counsel also argued that this discrimination amounts to untouchability.

Meanwhile TDB, which manages the hilltop shrine, told the court that the practice of Kerala-born Brahmins performing rituals has been there for a long time.

After a day-long proceeding, the court posted the matter for further hearing on December 17.

(with inputs from PTI)

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