New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a plea of two women seeking 24X7 security after they recently entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Senior advocate Indira Jaising listed the matter before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices L N Rao and S K Kaul on Thursday.
In the plea, one of the women, who had been attacked by her mother-in-law following her entry into the hilltop shrine, has sought security for both the women. The plea sought directions to all authorities to allow women of all age groups to enter the temple without any hindrance and to ensure security and safe passage, including police security to women wishing to enter the temple in future. It also pointed to danger to her life and liberty.
“Issue writ of mandamus directing authorities to provide full security, 24×7, to the two women who have entered the temple, and to deal with protesters indulging in acts of violence, physical and/or verbal on social media or otherwise against them in accordance with the law,” the petition said. It sought directions declaring all authorities not to conduct the rite of purification or to shut the temple on account of any woman of the age of 10-50 having entered the temple.
“Issue directions to declare that the rite of purification diminishes the dignity as human beings and violates their fundamental right,” it said. It also sought directions declaring that any form of prevention of women aged between 10 to 50 years from visiting the hilltop shrine is contrary to the September 28, 2018 judgment of the apex court. On September 28 last year, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
Two women of menstruating age group had stepped into the Sabarimala temple of Lord Ayyappa, breaking a centuries-old tradition and defying dire threats from the Hindu right. Kanakadurga, 44, and Bindu, 42, stepped into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the apex court’s historic judgment lifting the ban on entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its “eternally celibate” deity.
Following the entry of the women into the shrine, the chief priest had decided to close the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to perform the ‘purification’ ceremony. The top court has said it may not start hearing pleas seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict from January 22 as one of the judges was on medical leave. Earlier, the apex court decided to hear in open court the review petitions against the verdict. Besides Justice Indu Malhotra and the CJI, justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud are part of the five-judge constitution bench.
Justice Malhotra had delivered the dissenting judgment in the case. There are around 48 petitions seeking review of the judgment and they were filed following violent protests in favour and against the verdict. Despite the Supreme Court’s historic ruling, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the ‘barred’ group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right-wing outfits.