The Kerala High Court refused to stay a notification by the Travancore Devaswom Board on Wednesday, which stated that only 'Malayala Brahmins' can apply for the post of Melsanthi (head priest) in Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples. "We cannot pass an interim order now. The matter requires detailed consideration. We are not making any observations on the merit of the case. We are giving a chance to all the respondents in the petition to file counter-affidavits. This is not a matter where one could hurriedly take a decision," the court observed as reported by The New Indian Express.
A Division Bench comprising Justice CT Ravi Kumar and Justice Murali Purashothaman asked the religious board to file its counter affidavit and posted the case for further hearing to August 12. The petition to quash the notification was filed by advocate TR Rajesh for Sijith TL and Vijeesh PR. The petition argued that appointing only Malayala Brahmins from Kerala as the head priest in Sabarimala temple is a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India.
As reported by Times Now, the petition says, "The petitioners are Melsanthis working in two major temples in Kerala. They are fully qualified for being appointed as Melsanthis in any of the major temples run by the Devaswom Boards in the state. They are well conversant with the poojas, thantras, mantras which are necessary for offering pujas in the major temples in Kerala."
The lawyer for the petitioners sought a stay in the notification as the last date to apply for the post was on July 17. The petitioner argued that the qualification of the melsanthi should be judged based on his experience and knowledge in their duties, mantras, tantras, and necessary Vedas, rather than their caste.