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Court offers reprieve to Kannada actress in temple case

Kannada actress Jaimala, accused of outraging religious feelings at the famed Sabarimala temple in Kerala, got a reprieve Thursday when the Kerala High Court stayed the state government permission to prosecute her and two others

The trial against the actress and the other accused was initiated in a court in Ranni, some 250 km from here, following her revelation that she touched the Sabarimala deity in 1987, violating temple tradition.

Justice N.K. Balakrishnan of the high court while hearing the actress's petition issued notices to the state government and police.

Jaimala in her petition said that she did not do anything wrong because till 1991 women were allowed to go to the Sabarimala temple and she had entered the temple four years earlier in 1987.

In July, the Ranni chief judicial magistrate issued summons to Jaimala, astrologer P. Unnikrishna and his assistant Reghupathy.

In December last year, Kerala Police inquired into the controversial revelation by Jaimala that she had touched the Sabarimala deity.

The disclosure, made in 2006, created a furore because the traditions of the temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, dictated that women who have attained puberty but not reached menopause are barred from entry.

Following the controversy, the state government appointed a team of the crime branch of police to probe the issue.

The charge sheet said that the accused were involved in a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings under section 295 of Indian Penal Code.

The Sabarimala temple, located on a hill-top in the Western Ghats, is a famous pilgrim centre and can be reached only by walking to it.

The temple is situated at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala.

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