New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would decide tomorrow as to when the petitions, seeking review of its verdict allowing women of all groups into the Sabarimala temple, will be listed for hearing.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul considered the submissions of lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara that his petition seeking review of the constitutional bench judgement be listed for urgent hearing.
“We know that there are 19 review petitions pending. By tomorrow we will decide,” the bench said.
Nedumpara was mentioning the petition filed by National Ayyappa Devotees Association.
The plea sought the review on the grounds that the ruling was unconstitutional, void and in violation of the principles of natural justice. The judgment is vitiated by “errors apparent on the face of record”, the petition stated.
It was also claimed that the judgment was in violation of express constitutional provisions guaranteeing Ayyappa devotees’ liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship under Section 25 of the Constitution.
On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench by a ratio of 4:1 had held that women of all age groups should be allowed entry in Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple. The court had ruled on a public interest litigation filed in 2006 by non-profit body Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry for women and girls to the shrine.
However, defying the top court order, the devotees, including, did not allow any women of the age group 10-50 to enter the hill-stop shrine during the ongoing monthly pooja during which will end on Monday.
During these six days, the protesting devotees barred as many as 12 women of the “banned” age group from entering the Lord Ayyappa temple.
While the LDF government in Kerala has been insisting on implementing the SC ruling regarding the entry of women, the Congress, BJP and other fringe Hindu groups have backed the protests by devotees against the Kerala government’s move.
The court had on October 9 declined an urgent hearing on Nedumpara’s plea which had contended that the five-judge Constitution bench verdict lifting the ban was “absolutely untenable and irrational”.
The bench had said that the review petitions could only be taken up after the Dussehra vacation, adding that in any case, it will be heard in chamber and not in open court.
The petition filed by Shylaja Vijayan, president, National Ayyappa Devotees Association through Nedumpara, had submitted that, “Faith cannot be judged by scientific or rationale reasons or logic”.
“The notion that the judgment under review is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation, is unfounded. It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse,” the petition had submitted.
“Review judgment and order…On the ground that it is unconstitutional and void inasmuch as it is vitiated by errors apparent on the face of the record; that it is without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, that it is in violation of principles of natural justice and that it is in violation of express constitutional provisions,” the plea had said.
Besides the Association, another petition seeking review of the September 28 verdict of the apex court had also been filed by the Nair Service Society (NSS), an organisation for the uplift and welfare of the Nair community.
It had said that as the deity is a ‘Naistika Brahmachari, females below the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him and there is no practice of excluding worship by females.
“Hence, the delay or wait for 40 years to worship cannot be considered as exclusionary and it is an error of law on the face of the judgement,” the plea had said.
The NSS had said that many essential religious practices will be rendered void and religion itself may be rendered out of existence if the general ground of equality under Article 14 is resorted to and essential religious practices are tested on the principle of rationality.