“Allow Me to Visit the Temple”, Woman Pleads in Kerala High Court

In an unprecedented move, the Kerala High Court has initiated hearings on a petition demanding temple accessibility for physically disabled devotees, marking a significant stride toward inclusivity in religious practices. This initiative was sparked by a heartfelt plea from a physically challenged devotee, leading the court to take suo moto cognizance of the matter.

The bench, comprising Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice Harishankar V Menon, has directed the state, along with Travancore, Cochin, and Malabar Devaswom Boards, to submit a detailed affidavit within four weeks. The affidavit is expected to outline potential preparations and suggestions to facilitate wheelchair access in temples, ensuring that all devotees, regardless of physical ability, can partake in the spiritual experience.

The case originated from a letter addressed to the bench by a female devotee, highlighting the challenges faced by physically disabled individuals in accessing temples. Despite her reliance on a wheelchair for mobility, she recounted how temple authorities denied her entry into the ‘Nalambalam’ sanctuary on wheels, forcing her to rely on her father and husband for physical support during her visit.

The petitioner passionately argued for the rights of disabled devotees to access temples and engage in worship without hindrance. She emphasized that the ban on wheelchairs not only undermines the morale of disabled devotees but also infringes upon their fundamental right to worship. The High Court’s response to her plea, appointing advocate V. Ramkumar Nambiar as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) and setting a follow-up hearing for May 20, reflects a judicial acknowledgment of the need for greater accessibility and inclusivity within religious spaces.

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