Top Court Agrees To Review Sabarimala Verdict In Open Court On January 22
The Supreme Court today agreed to review in open court its own order ending Sabarimala temple's ban on women of menstrual age, but made it clear that there was no stay on its earlier order. The court will hear 49 petitions challenging the ruling on January 22.
The review petitions were taken up 'in-chamber' by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra today. In the in-chamber proceedings, the judges examine the review petitions by circulation and lawyers are not present.
"All the Review Petitions along with all pending applications will be heard in Open Court on 22nd January, 2019 before the appropriate Bench. We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this Court dated 28th September, 2018 passed in Writ Petition (Civil) No.373 of 2006 (Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. vs. The State of Kerala & Ors)," the order said.
In September, the court had ruled that women of all ages must be allowed in the renowned temple, ending a ban that prevented women and girls between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine to celibate Lord Ayyappa.
"Restrictions can't be treated as essential religious practice," the top court had said in a majority four-one judgement, calling the custom "almost like untouchability".
Since that order, however, no woman below 50 has made it to the shrine because of massive protests by devotees who have defied the Supreme Court.
The temple remains open only for 127 days in a year and can be accessed through a forest.
More than a dozen women tried to access the shrine but failed, even with heavy police escort, to come anywhere near the courtyard of the shrine.
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the over 800-year-old Lord Ayyappa temple, had told the court that the ban was not anti-women and is voluntarily accepted by them. The board had also urged the top court to steer clear of sitting in judgment on sensitive religious matters.
The Sabarimala protests have triggered a political row with the BJP and the Congress both siding with devotees and targeting the Left government, which had pledged to follow the court order.