Makarajyothi: HC directs govt to convey views within 4 weeks

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Kochi, Feb 11 (PTI) The Kerala High court today directedthe state government, Devaswom board and Forest department toconvey its position within four weeks on writ petitions on thecontroversy over ''Makarajyothi'' following the Pullumedustampede, which left 102 Sabarimala pilgrims dead.

A division bench comprising Justices Thothathil BRadhakrishnan and S Satish Chandran passed the direction whilehearing three petitions by two different associations and aformer Sabarimala temple priest.

The ''Kerala Yukti Vadi Sangham'' in its petition wantedthe report of the Justice Chandrasekhara Menon commission, nowbefore the Assembly, to be placed before the court.

Justice Chandrasekhara Menon had probed the January 14,1999 stampede at Pampa in which 52 Sabarimala pilgrims werekilled.

The ''Akhil Bharateeya Yukti Vadi sangham'' sought adirection not to utilise government funds for lighting''Makarajyothi'', which it said was "man made".

In his petition, the former ''melsanthi (priest)'' ofSabarimala said ''Makarajyothi'' was a matter of faith and noneshould interfere with it.

The board has been asked to get the opinion of ''thantri'',the main priest of Sabarimala, on the matter.

The court had earlier wanted to know if ''Makarajyothi''was man made and the difference between it and''Makaravilakku.''

52 pilgrims died in the stampede which occurred whenthousands of devotees gathered to witness ''Makarajyothi'', abeacon that fleetingly appears at dusk -- marking theculmination of the two-month-long ''Makaravilakku'' season frommid-November.

In another proceedings, the bench directed the convenorof the state Disaster Management Authority to file anaffidavit whether the district level Disaster managementauthority has been constituted in Idukki and Palakkaddistricts and if any assistance was provided by them duringthe tragedy.

Advocate General C P Sudhakara Prasad informed the courtthat even though services of sitting High Court judge wassought from the High Court, it was not allowed. Government waslooking for a retired High court judge to head the judicialcommission.

The next hearing of the case will be taken up after amonth.

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