Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said more clarity on the Supreme Court's latest verdict was required before articulating the state's stand on the issue. He also did not provide any hint whether the government would protect women who wanted to enter Sabarimala this time.
The Chief Minister, nonetheless, sought to strike a balance in his first response to the verdict. Last time, the Chief Minister's aggressive stance after the verdict was perceived as highly provocative.
“As it stands, it looks like there is no stay on the original verdict. The majority ruling has not overturned the Court's earlier stand. But that said, we also need to get an understanding of the implications of the latest verdict,” the Chief Minister told the media on Thursday.
He evaded repeated questions on how the government would handle the situation if women of child-bearing age insisted on entering the shrine in the coming 'mandalam' season. “Let us first understand the verdict more properly,” he said. For this, he said the government would consult top legal minds in the country. When he was told that the season will begin in a day, the Chief Minister said a decision would be taken quickly.
Unlike Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran who was provoked by questions early in the day, the Chief Minister was mostly smiles during his media interaction in the evening. He essentially sought to convey the government's dilemma. “We have always said that we would implement the Supreme Court's verdict, whatever it is. Now when the verdict has come, it looks highly confusing,” Pinarayi said.
He said there was no clarity on the status of the Sabarimala issue. “Would it be decided by the larger seven-member bench or will it be entrusted with the five-member bench after the seven-member bench settle certains issues of law that had been laid down in today's verdict,” he said. The Chief Minsiter was also not clear whether the Sabarimala issue would be clubbed with other gender issues in other religions, like in Muslim and Parsi communities.
However, the Chief Minister also suggested that his stand, too, had come in for some appreciation. “I hear that at least two of the three judges had said that strong action should have been taken to enforce the Supreme Court order,” he said, and added: “What if one more judge had joined them?”