New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to hear in February a batch of petitions seeking the recall of its order permitting women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine as one of the judges on the constitution bench is on medical leave till January 30. Pointing that the case would not be taken up till January 30 as Justice Indu Malhotra is on medical leave till then, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the next date of hearing would be fixed only after she resumes work.
Earlier, the court had on November 13 said it would hold on January 22 an open court hearing on a batch of 49 petitions seeking a recall of its order permitting women of all age groups to pray at Lord Ayappa’s shrine in Kerala. The court had directed the hearing of the batch of petitions seeking the recall of the September 28 verdict on January 22, saying that “until then, the order will remain valid”.
A bench of then Chief Justice Dipak Misra (now retired), Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra had on September 28, by a 4:1 majority verdict, junked the age-old tradition of the shrine prohibiting girls and women in the age group of 10-50 years from entering the temple. It said the ban on women in the menstruating age group, whose presence at the Sabarimala temple was considered “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.
The petitioners seeking recall of the verdict argued that besides “patent legal errors” in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice was based on notions of menstrual impurity was factually erroneous. Pointing to massive protests against the verdict by women worshippers, the petitioners contended that these “clearly demonstrate that overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of women”.