New Delhi. The Supreme Court has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Centre for failing to file on time an affidavit on women being forced to become ‘devadasis’ and the possibility of abolition of the age-old tradition. A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said that since the government has not filed its response despite the last opportunity given by the court on September 11, it needed to pay a cost of Rs 25,000.
SC However, it asked the authorities concerned to file an affidavit within four weeks. In September, the Centre had agreed to file a composite affidavit with regard to the system of women being allegedly forced to become devadasis.
A ‘devadasi’ is a woman dedicated to worship and service of a deity or a temple all her life. The court had then said that no further time will be granted in the matter. It has now fixed the matter for hearing on January 8. The court had sought Centre’s response on PIL filed last year by NGO S L Foundation, which sought direction to central and Karnataka governments to take urgent steps for restraining the ‘devadasis’ dedication that was going to be held on the midnight of February 13, 2014 at Uttangi Mala Durga Temple in the state’s Devanagar district as it was against the provision of the Constitution. The Supreme Court was told that the activity was also against the Karnataka Devadasis Prohibition of Dedication Act, 1982, and conflicts with the rights of juveniles.
The court had also then directed Karnataka’s Chief Secretary to take all preventive measures in respect of a programme, wherein Dalit girl children were to be dedicated as ‘devadasis’.
The bench had also sought Karnataka government’s reply and asked it to file a response on the PIL seeking framing of guidelines to stop the tradition of ‘devadasis’, saying it is a national shame.
The NGO has alleged that the process of ‘devadasi’ dedication was still prevalent in different parts of the country despite the law against it and pleaded for the apex court’s intervention in the matter. The NGO has sought direction to the central government to frame a law and guidelines to prohibit the practice of this system in any part of the country.