Sabarimala Row: Supreme Court to hear review petitions today, things to know about it

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear 48 petitions seeking review of the judgement which the apex court had passed one and half month back. The apex court’s five-judge Constitution Bench led by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, on September 28, had in a 4:1 majority verdict allowed menstruating women between the 10-50 age group to enter the temple and offer prayers. The Supreme Court said that the ban on women in menstruating age group, whose presence at the Sabarimala temple was considered “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.

The apex court’s judgement has led to protests and counter-protests at the hill-top shrine in Kerala. The temple and nearby areas had witnessed massive protests from devotees against the entry of young women into the shrine, when it was opened for monthly pujas on November 5 and 6 and for five days from October 17. Over a dozen women under 50 had been prevented from reaching the temple. Over 3,700 people had been arrested for violence during Sabarimala protests across the state after the apex court ruling.

What is today’s hearing of review petitions about?

  • A batch of 48 petitions seeking review of the judgement would be taken up for consideration in-chamber by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
  • The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra would consider the review petitions in their chambers at 3 pm.
  • Besides these pleas, three separate petitions seeking review of the verdict are also slated to come up for hearing in the open court before a bench comprising CJI Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph.
  • The top court had, on October 9, declined an urgent hearing on the review plea filed by an association which had contended that the five-judge Constitution bench’s verdict lifting the ban was “absolutely untenable and irrational”.
  • Later, the court had said that it would consider the review pleas on November 13.
  • A plea filed by National Ayyappa Devotees Association (NADA), which has sought review of the verdict, had said that “the notion that the judgment under review is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation, is unfounded. It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse”.
  • Besides the Association, several other petitions including one by Nair Service Society (NSS), have been filed against the apex court verdict. The NSS had said in the plea that as the deity is a ‘Naistika Brahmachari’, females below the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him and there is no practice of excluding worship by females. “Hence, the delay or wait for 40 years to worship cannot be considered as exclusionary and it is an error of law on the face of the judgement,” the plea had said.

What is Kerala government doing?

After mounting tensions over the Sabarimala issue, on November 12, the Kerala government mulled to convene an all-party meeting to discuss various matters relating to the Sabarimala temple, which has been rocked by the issue of entry of women in the menstrual age, ahead of the annual pilgrim season commencing this week.

The Kerala government also strongly opposed a plea by a BJP functionary, seeking to restrain non-Hindus and non-idol worshippers inside the Sabarimala temple, saying the hill shrine was a “secular temple” where devotees of all faiths visit for offering prayers.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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