KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has granted permission to the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham (ABASS) to provide free food (Annadanam) to devotees at Sannidhanam and Pampa.

The organisation has been allowed to serve free food during the ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku’ season, on all days in which the Sabarimala temple opens in connection with the monthly pooja and on the annual Vishu and Onam festivals.The permission has come with several conditions though. The Devaswom Bench of the court directed no charge, in cash or kind, shall be accepted by ABASS from devotees or others for providing ‘annadanam’ at places belonging to ABASS in Sannidhanam and Pampa.

“Proper account shall be maintained and a copy of the audited account shall be made available to the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala, appointed by the court,” the bench said.It also made it clear the supplied food quality and hygiene shall be maintained throughout by providing sufficient infrastructure and deploying volunteers.  “No waste shall be discarded on the premises or nearby, or dumped even on land, river or forest. Proper steps should be taken to get the waste transported to appropriate places for disposal/treatment in accordance with law,” it said.



ABASS was also asked to abide by all lawful orders issued by officers of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the Police and Forest departments as well as those issued by the Special Commissioner.
“No plastic cups, bottles, papers, plates, packets should be used on the premises. Only eco-friendly materials should be used to serve food or potable water. Performance of ‘annadanam’ at Sannidhanam and Pampa on the premises of ABASS shall be under close surveillance of the police to ensure the service rendered are fully transparent,” the bench said.
The order also said competent authorities, including the Food Safety Commissioner will be free to inspect the quality of food and hygiene maintained for preparing and serving the food.The ABASS counsel submitted the organisation’s activities were garnering appreciation from all quarters, including the Devaswom, state and other entities. In 2015-16, at Sannidhanam alone, ABASS provided food to 10.44 lakh devotees in the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season, the counsel submitted.
The counsel submitted ABASS was working by following the directions of TDB and the Special Commissioner. Volunteers were providing free service and were given food and shelter by ABASS. The counsel also submitted the conduct of ‘annadanam’ conducted by it will in no way affect the ‘annadanam’ conducted by the Devaswom.Objecting to ABASS’ plea, TDB had informed the court various temple trusts including the Guruvayur Devaswom, Kadampuzha Devi Temple, Tirupathi Devasthanam, Mookambika Devi Temple and Madurai Meenakshi Temple were not allowing any ‘annadanam’, except those they were providing.

HC upholds N Vasu’s posting as commissioner

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has observed that if the existing Commissioner is shifted all of a sudden, at this moment, there is every chance for the equilibrium being shattered and the various on-going activities in Sabarimala coming to a standstill. Former Law Secretary Rama Raja Prema Prasad is the Commissioner now. The court made the observation while upholding the appointment of new commissioner N Vasu.

His tenure will come into effect only after the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season is over. Meanwhile, the court rejected the approval sought by the TDB to appoint V S Jayakumar as the Commissioner of the Devaswom. The government had submitted a panel of three candidates- P Suresh, V K Balakrishnan and N Vasu for the post of Commissioner.