New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a batch of review petitions in open court against its September 28 verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. A five-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra will hear the 49 petitions on January 22. Also Read - Sabarimala Festival: Only 1000 Pilgrims Will be Allowed For ‘Darshan’ at Ayyappa Temple
The apex court, however, made it clear that there will be no stay on the September 28 verdict which allowed entry of women in the Lord Ayyappa shrine. “Supreme Court has admitted the review petitions and said all the review petitions to be heard on January 22 in the open court,” said Advocate Mathew Nedumpara. Also Read - President Signs Ordinance to Set up Committee to Monitor Air Pollution; AQI Deteriorates to 'Severe' in Many Areas in Delhi
Lauding the SC’s decision, Kerala BJP president Sreedharan Pillai termed it a victory for the protesters. Meanwhile Rahul Eashwar who spearheaded the protests in Sabarimala asked Pinarayi Vijayan-led govt to cooperate with pilgrims as Lord Ayyappa devotees will react against any attempt to violate traditions. “We will stand guard outside Sabarimala till Jan 22 when the SC hears the review petition,” a leading daily quoted Easwar as saying. Also Read - Tarun Tejpal Case: SC Extends Trial Completion Time till March 31
Notably, the SC was hearing a batch of petitions filed by several associations including National Ayyappa Devotees Association (NADA) Nair Service Society (NSS) and others. They had moved the review petition seeking recall of September 28 verdict.
“Without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance has the effect of holding that the character of the deity can be altered based on individual faith and belief, in violation of the tenets of a particular religion and or religious sect,” the review plea by the Nair Service Society said.
The petitioners had alleged that besides “patent legal errors” in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice is based on notions of menstrual impurity is “factually erroneous”.
On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple saying that the ban amounted to gender discrimination.