Kerala HC seeks report on number of devotees who arrived at Sabarimala from Nov 16 to 18

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday sought a report from the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala on the number of devotees who arrived there on November 16-18 for offering prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple after the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season commenced.

A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar sought the report during the hearing of a PIL initiated by it.

The PIL is based on a detailed order of July 1 of the high court for considering the question - whether the virtual queue system for Sabarimala pilgrimage be entrusted to the Travancore Devaswom Board as has been done by other Devaswoms.

During the hearing, the state government informed the bench that counters for spot booking for the pilgrimage have been set up at 10 locations in the state and these would be functional from Thursday.

Besides Aadhaar, voter ID card and passports would also be considered as identity proof for the spot booking, the state said and added that only those who have certificates indicating receipt of two doses of vaccine or a negative RTPCR report not older than 72 hours would be allowed to offer prayers.

It also said that there were around 2,000 cancellations of the bookings made via the virtual queue system.

The government said that on Tuesday the devotees who arrived to offer prayers were those who booked via the virtual queue system and added that such bookings were valid for seven days.

The court, thereafter, listed the matter for further hearing on Friday -- November 19 -- when it said it will consider the issues of whether more spot booking counters are needed and on ensuring data privacy with regard to the details of devotees who use the virtual queue system.


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