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Sabarimala Review Petition Verdict LIVE Updates: Earlier Verdict Upheld By SC

Sabarimala Review Petition Verdict LIVE Updates: Earlier Verdict Upheld By SC :- The Supreme Court today referred the case to a larger seven-judge bench petition against its order on the Sabarimala temple case. The earlier 2018 verdict allowing entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala temple is still operational.

Sabarimala Review Petition Verdict LIVE Updates

A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will deliver a judgement on petitions seeking review of its September 2018 order which allowed menstruating women to enter the Ayyappa shrine in Kerala. The order had ended a centuries-old ban on women and girls between 10 and 50 years.

Earlier, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the Sabarimala shrine had argued that the court could not intervene in a centuries-old belief. The verdict had sparked a series of protests. Meanwhile, the Kerala government had supported the verdict saying the court could set aside religious practices that are against fundamental rights.

Following are the arguments of the main petitioners in the case:

  1. Nair Service Society: Represented by senior advocate K Parasaran, the Nair Service Society had held that the custom banning menstruating women from entering the temple was essential to maintain the sanctity of the temple in following the age-old practice.
  2. Travancore Devaswom Board: The hearings saw an interesting twist when the TDB, which handles the temple’s management, changed its stance. The TDB had earlier opposed the judgment reasoning that it hadn’t taken into consideration the “essential character” of the deity. It had also opposed the PIL by Indian Young Lawyers Association on the grounds that the “celibate character” of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the temple, is a unique feature that should be protected. The TDB, however, changed its stance following which it submitted in the court that discrimination on the grounds of biological attributes was not correct. Senior advocate A M Singhvi, representing TDB’s ex-chairperson, argued in favour of a review of the judgment.
  3. Former Thantri: A counsel for the temple priest, the former Thantri of Sabarimala had told the court that the deity’s celibacy would be eroded if women of menstruating age are allowed in the temple. Senior advocate V Giri, has represented the shrine thantry.

The apex court will deliver its judgement on as many as 65 petitions — including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas — which were filed after its verdict sparked violent protests in Kerala.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its decision on February 6 after hearing various parties including those seeking re-consideration of the September 28, 2018 judgement. Other members of the bench are justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra.

At 10:33 AM, the judges arrived. The verdict will be pronounced shortly. Chief Justice Gogoi said he will take five minutes to read out the verdict.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “What is perceived as faith perceived by one group may not be perceived by another group. Considering the debate also pertains to allowing Muslim and Parsi women to enter religious practice. The entry of women into places of worship is not limited to this temple. It is involved in the entry of women into mosques.  Petition on this issue already pending with respect to the Bohra community.”

The Sabarimala review petitions have been forwarded to a larger bench by 3:2. Chief Justice Gogoi said that the endeavour of petitioners was to revive the debate on religion and faith. Restrictions on women in religious places are not restricted to Sabarimala alone and are prevalent in other religions also.

Review petitions are to be examined by a larger 7-judge bench. Now, fresh opportunities to be given to all parties.

However, the Supreme Court’s earlier decision allowing women of all ages still operational. But large bench will go into all issues – Sabrimala, Muslim women entering the mosque, Parsi women performing last rites and genital practice of mutilation by Bohra community. Justice Fali Nariman said that the Supreme Court decision binds everyone and bound to be complied by everyone.

Welcoming the apex court’s verdict, Kandararu Rajeevaru, chief priest of the Sabarimala temple said, “We accept it. Referring to the decision to a larger bench gives us more hope. It will extend greater strength to the faithful. It’s a good thing that the verdict considers Ayyappa devotees as a separate community. Religion and law must not be mixed.”

However, the majority verdict did not say anything adverse against the apex court’s September 28, 2018 decision allowing women to enter the shrine nor did it stay the earlier judgement. The Sabarimala temple is said to reopen for devotees on November 16.

Several political leaders and social activists have welcomed the Supreme Court verdict.