VIP services at Sabarimala: Action initiated against aviation company

Sabarimala Temple
Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala. Photo: Nikhilraj P/Manorama

Kochi: The Pathanamthitta District Police chief on Monday apprised the Kerala High Court that the police has initiated action against the aviation group which offered a helicopter trip and VIP tour of Sabarimala in an advertisement.

The action was taken on the basis of a complaint file by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the famed Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala.

The TDB had earlier apprised the bench comprising Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar that a complaint will be filed with the state police chief regarding the advertisement.

The ad, which was displayed by Heli Kerala company on their website, offered a helicopter journey to Sabarimala from Kochi, a car tour to Pampa and a trip to sannidhanam (sanctum sanctorum) in a dolly. The cost of the entire package was Rs 50 lakh. The Limited Liability Partnership, namely, Enhance Aviation Services Ltd had offered 'Sabarimala Ayyappa Darshan Helicopter Service Package' without requisite permissions.

The company informed the court that the ad has been removed.

The Kerala High Court on Monday said it will hear the matter related to the advertisement regarding a helicopter service to Sabarimala, by an aviation group, on November 24.

The high court had recently taken a suo motu case following a report over the advertisement related to a helicopter service offered to pilgrims going to Sabarimala by a private aviation company.

The court had earlier impleaded the Union government, which sought time to file its affidavit, regarding the operations of choppers in a high security zone and an ecologically sensitive region like Sabarimala.

The TDB had earlier told the court that it had not granted permission for any helicopter service.

The HC also directed the TDB to inform citizens through the Virtual-Q platform that for the time being, no tour operator in aviation sector has been granted permission for helicopter facility at Nilakkal.

Advocate Jinish Paul, who appeared on behalf of the company, submitted that the respondent is a tour operator in aviation sector. It was conceded that no permission had been obtained by them either from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Travancore Devaswom Board, the District Administration or the District Police for conducting helicopter services to Nilakkal, for pilgrims, and the circumstances in which the same was carried out could not be explained by the counsel.

When the court was told by respondent that it would not proceed further with package, the court made it clear that the said undertaking would not absolve it from being proceeded against in accordance with law. The respondent was also directed to publish on its website the information that no tour operator in aviation sector had been granted permission for helicopter facility at Nilakkal, presently.

(With PTI and LiveLaw inputs.)


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