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UDF MP introduces bill to preserve Sabarimala rituals

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: June 21, 2019  | 20:53 IST

New Delhi, Jun 21 (PTI) Newly sworn-in UDF MP from Kerala N K Premachandran Friday introduced a private member bill to preserve the rituals, customs and religious practices of Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple as it existed on September 1, 2018. Through the Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha Temple (Special Provisions) Bill, he sought that "any change in the rituals should be as per the customary practices". Speaking to PTI, the United Democratic Front (UDF) MP said "the bill has now become the property of the House". "The customs and rituals have to be preserved and status quo as existing on September 1, 2018 should be maintained," he said. Earlier speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, Premchandran said the BJP is trying to tackle the Sabarimala issue "politically". He said BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi gave a submission in the Zero Hour that considering Ayyappa devotees as a separate denomination, there should be a conclusive set of laws. "Quite naturally, knowing that the private member bill would be taken up at 3.00 pm, Lekhi made the submission at Zero Hour to prove that BJP is with the believers," he said, adding "this approach of the government of not bringing in a set of rules whereas saying that they are with the devotees cannot be justified in any manner". The Bill was unopposed by the BJP or the Opposition, he said. Premchandran, in his press meet, also refuted Lekhi's allegation of the bill being "defective" and "incomplete" and said that it has the approval of the Union Law Ministry. "Lekhi, who did not have an opinion regarding this issue till yesterday, suddenly speaks in the Parliament right before the introduction of this Bill, saying that a conclusive set of laws need to be framed. She did not speak about my Bill, but said that a defective or incomplete bill cannot be supported and since the matter is pending in court, the course of action needs to be seen," he said. "On one hand, the BJP wants to support it and on the other hand, they are unwilling to accept a Bill that has been brought from the side of the UDF," he alleged. The Supreme Court on September 28 last year declared a Kerala government law barring women aged between 10 and 40 years from entering the Sabarimala temple unconstitutional. Several pleas were filed seeking review of the verdict. The apex court has reserved its judgement on the review plea. Meanwhile, Premchandran and another UDF MP P K Kunhalikutty said the NDA government's attempt to pass the Triple Talaq bill by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha was strongly opposed by the Opposition. Kunhalikutty, also the National General Secretary of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), told media that the opposition to the Bill was a setback for the government and that "it has understood that having a majority was not enough to achieve vested interests". He said a "separate strategy" will be devised to tackle the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 in the Rajya Sabha and that discussions with various parties are going on. Premachandran told PTI the proposed legislation was opposed on the ground that it "violated the fundamental rights" of a specific community and was "discriminatory". "Criminalising a civil wrong was not correct. Personal law of a community should not be criminalised," he added. PTI HMP LLP SRY

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