Kerala High Court
Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday termed as "illegal" the permission granted by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to a Delhi-based trust to put up constructions for holding a nine-day-long 'Ramakatha' programme at Pamba-Manalppuram area of Pathanamthitta district and directed that the temporary structures be removed "forthwith".
A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar said land at Pamba-Manalppuram was leased out to the TDB for the specific purpose of providing pilgrim facilities and therefore, it should not have permitted the trust to put up the structures for conducting the programme.
The court said the constructions were going on from January 24 and by now a major portion of Pamba-Manalppuram was occupied by the temporary structures which was "causing obstruction and inconvenience" to the pilgrims proceeding through there to Sannidhanam at Sabarimala from February 13 in connection with the 'Kumbamasa Pooja'.
"No such construction can be permitted in Pamba-Manalppuram and therefore, such constructions will have to be removed forthwith. No such constructions can be utilised for conducting the programme 'Ramakatha' by the 10th respondent (trust) from February 19, 2022 till February 27, 2022.
"Any permission granted by the Travancore Devaswom Board for undertaking such constructions, is per se illegal," the bench said.
The trust, thereafter, sought an order from the court to conduct its programme at Anjaneya Auditorium in the premises of Pamba Ganapathi Temple subject to conditions that may be imposed by the Board and the Pathanamthitta district administration.
The Delhi-based Nandkishore Bajoria Charitable Trust also said that it will conduct the programme at the auditorium without causing any inconvenience to the devotees coming to that temple, without disturbing its daily rituals and ceremonies and also without any hindrances to the wildlife in the area.
The bench did not issue any such direction, but recorded the Board's submission that if any such request was received from the trust for using the auditorium, the same shall be considered and an appropriate decision would be taken in consultation with the district administration.
The high court also called for a report from the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala, as to the "measures that have to be taken to ensure that similar incidents are not repeated at Pamba-Manalppuram in future".
"The report of the Special Commissioner shall be placed on record within three weeks," it added and disposed of the petition initiated by it on its own to examine the permission granted by TDB to hold the programme.
The petition was initiated by the court on its own based on a news report which said the Board had already issued orders leasing out the area to the trust for the programme and steps were been taken to clean the surroundings, put up a 'pandal' and lease out the parking area and helipad at Nilakkal. PTI