Hyderabad: The Supreme Court on November 14 referred to a larger bench the petitions seeking review of the apex court’s 2018 judgement regarding allowing women aged between 10 and 50 years to enter into the Sabarimala temple.
While reading out the judgement, the five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that the petitions had “sought to revive the debate about what’s religion and essential religious practices.” “Individual right to pray at the temple cannot be superior to what is considered as religious by another sect is what petitions have argued,” the court said.
During the hearing on Thursday, Justice Gogoi, while reading the verdict on behalf of himself and Justices AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, said that the restriction of women into places of religious beliefs is not limited to Sabarimala temple. He added that a seven-judge bench would decide all such religious issues such as the temple, entry of women in mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.
However, it may be noted here that today’s judgement came out as a split verdict (3:2) with Justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud giving a dissenting verdict in the case.
The Supreme Court on September 28 last year had lifted the ban (by a majority verdict of 4:1) that prevented the entry of women and girls into entering the famous Ayappa shrine in Kerala and had held that the practice was illegal and unconstitutional. However, this decision was protested by people who thwarted most of the attempts by women to travel to the Sabarimala temple, located northeast of Pathanamthitta in a tiger reserve.
This verdict comes just two days ahead of the Sabarimala temple re-opening for the two-month-long season from November 16.