Sabarimala row: Supreme Court may not start hearing on review pleas from January 22 as judge goes on medical leave

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it may not start hearing pleas seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict from January 22 as one of the judges is on medical leave. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge of the five-judge constitution bench which delivered the verdict allowing all women inside the Sabarimala temple, is on leave “due to some medical reasons”.

The bench, which also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao and S K Kaul, said the hearing, which is scheduled to start from January 22, may not take place. The observation came after lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara mentioned the petition filed by the National Ayyappa Devotees’ Association (NADA) and sought live streaming of the hearing on the petitions seeking review of the apex court’s verdict on January 22.

NADA asked for live streaming and video recording of the court proceedings during the hearing of the review petitions so “justice is made accessible to common man”. If the proceedings are allowed to be telecast, millions of devotees of Lord Ayyappa, not merely in Kerala, but all over the world, will have the opportunity to hear and watch what transpired in the court, it said.

“There cannot be an issue of greater importance of public interest or concern than the Sabarimala case. Video recording of the said case would mean the entire proceeding thereof being perpetually available for posterity,” the petition said. On September 28, 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 temple, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination. The temple in Kerala has been witnessing violent protests since the verdict.

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