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KOCHI: Throwing clothes into water bodies near Sabarimala is an offence punishable with imprisonment, the Kerala high court has said. The ruling is aimed at curbing the
practice of pilgrims throwing their clothes into the Pamba river and other water bodies close to the pilgrimage site.
The court came down srongly on the practice, observing that it did not have basis in any religious ritual. The division bench headed by Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan also said that any individuals engaging in rituals that pollute the Pamba river should be punished and penalised according to the Water Act, which prescribes imprisonment ranging from one year to six years based on severity of the crime.
Sabarimala is a hilltop shrine of Ayyappa in central Kerala that is visited by over five million pilgrims during a two-month pilgrimage season that begins in November.
The division bench also said the right to practise religion is subject to public order, morality and health. It added that all citizens and the society at large have a duty to protect the environment and that it is the duty of the government to take action against individuals and groups who pollute the river.
A report of pollution control board has said the Pamba is getting polluted fast and called for effective controls to save the river, the court said while stressing the need for the executive magistrate to issue prohibition orders against pollution.