The Kerala High Court's Devasom Bench on Monday ruled that the Sabarimala temple was not just for Hindus but it welcomed people from all faiths.
The court's response came on a petition filed by Hindu activist and BJP fellow traveller T.G. Mohan Das as the Kerala government decided to step up the security in and around the temple when it opens next month.
Das, in his petition, said the high court should rule that the temple should be open to only devotees. The court did not accept this and pointed out that the Sabarimala temple was open to everyone.
The court, however, asked the Kerala government and the Travancore Devasom Board to file their affidavits on the issue and posted the case after two weeks.
The court also pointed out that there was no rule that all devotees who go to the temple should carry the sacred kit on their head.
But it said this was a must for the pilgrims who wish to mount the 18 steps that lead to the sanctum santorum.
In a second petition that came up before the Devasom Bench of the High Court, four women, including two women advocates, sought the protection of the court for praying at the temple.
The state government said if the pilgrim was a devotee, all the necessary arrangements would be provided for safe pilgrimage.
Satisfied with the reply, the court told the women that the court had nothing to do in this regard as the government had assured safe pilgrimage.
According to the latest figures, the total number of people arrested for creating trouble in the temple town and other places between October 16 and 22 as of Monday morning has touched 3,505. A total of 529 cases have been registered in various police stations.
The police have until now released pictures of 420 people whom they claim incited or took part in violence and unrest. On Monday morning, pictures of another 210 people were released, implying more arrests were on the cards.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Police on Monday decided to increase the number of top officials who would be posted in the temple town to oversee security arrangements when it reopens.
They would include two Additional Director Generals, four Inspector Generals besides other officers, overseeing a total of about 5,000 policemen and women.
The temple will open for a day on November 5 and then again on November 16 for almost two months for the routine annual pilgrimage.
In a related development, senior Congress legislator K. Muraleedharan urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to call an all-party meeting to discuss the Sabarimala issue.
(With IANS inputs)