Ahead of SC verdict, security tightened at Sabarimala temple in Kerala

The court will deliver its judgement on as many as 65 petitions - including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas - filed after its verdict sparked violent protests in the state.

Ahead of SC verdict, security tightened at Sabarimala temple in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: As the Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Thursday its final verdict on the entry of women of all age groups to Kerala's revered Sabarimala Temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, elaborate security arrangements have been made by the state government in the temple town to ensure security.

The top court verdict assumes significance as it will clear if women of all age groups should be allowed to enter the revered temple - a long-standing demand of the women right activists.

The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, had in September last year lifted the ban preventing women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the Ayyappa shrine in Kerala, holding the centuries-old religious practice as illegal and unconstitutional.

The court is scheduled to pronounce on Thursday its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking re-examination of its decision to allow entry of women of all age group into the temple. 

The court will deliver its judgement on as many as 65 petitions - including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas - filed after its verdict sparked violent protests in the state.

The five-judge constitution bench, comprising Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had reserved its decision on February 6 after hearing various parties, including those seeking re-consideration of the September judgement.

Meanwhile, a two-month-long festival season of the famed Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is set to open on Sunday. The festival is set to end on January 21.

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Kerala Police do not want to take any chances this time, particularly in the wake of the large scale protest and violence that occurred last year following the apex court verdict allowing all women to enter the temple. 

Right-wing groups had stood guard, chased women, preventing them from entering into the temple.

With the top court now expected to give its final verdict after 64 review petitions were filed asking it to ensure that traditions and culture of the famed temple is maintained.

The police have classified the two-month-long season into four segments with the first two weeks starting on November 15 to November 29 and in all 2,551 police personnel would be posted in and around the temple complex.

The second phase would see 2,539 personnel and would be on duty from November 30 to December 14, and the third one beginning December 15 to 29 and would see 2,992 officials on duty.

The fourth and the most important period begins from December 30 till the close of the temple would see 3,077 personnel trying their best to see that the verdict was adhered to in letter and spirit.

The entire security arrangements is led by the additional director general of police Sheikh Darwesh Sahib.

The duty roster will see 24 SPs and ASPs, 112 deputy SPs, 264 Inspectors, 1185 SIs and ASIs, 8,402 civil police officials manning the security arrangements.

The list also includes 307 women personnel including 30 women inspectors and SI`s.