New Delhi: Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages Sabarimala shrine, has changed its stand and told the Supreme Court that women of all age groups should be allowed to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple. “Board has now decided to respect the judgement and has also filed an application in this regard,” Devaswom Board’s counsel Rakesh Dwivedi said.
The development comes as a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra started hearing a batch of petitions, seeking review of its judgement allowing entry to women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple.
The Kerala government remained firm on its stand and told the five-judge bench that there was no need to review the original verdict of the apex court.
Senior advocate K Prasaran, appearing for Nair Service Society, opened the arguments before the five-judge bench and sought setting aside of the verdict. “The exclusionary practice in Sabarimala is based on the character of the deity,”Parasaran argued.
Earlier on September 28, 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the shrine, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
The apex court’s verdict had sparked violent protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees on grounds that women of reproductive age should not be allowed into the temple dedicated to the celibate god.
On November 13 last year, the apex court agreed to hear in open court in January this year the pleas seeking review of its verdict but had refused to stay the judgement.
However, on January 22, the top court had said it may not start hearing the pleas, seeking review of Sabarimala verdict till January 30 as one of the judges of the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, was on medical leave. Justice Malhotra, the lone woman judge in the bench, had delivered the dissenting judgement in the case last year.