New Delhi: Kerala law minister AK Balan on Sunday said that there was a ‘de facto’ stay on the entry of women in the Sabarimala shrine, even as the Supreme Court, while sending review petitions into the case to a larger seven-judge bench, last Thursday, did not put a stay on its original September 2018 verdict permitting entry of women in the age group of 10-50, in the shrine.
The development came a day after the Kerala Police sent back 10 women devotees, including activist Trupti Desai, of menstruating age on day one of the opening of the holy shrine.
Speaking to media on Sunday, Balan said, “There is a de facto stay on the entry of women as the case was referred to a larger bench. We need more clarity on this and will go by what the court tells us.”
The top court had delivered a 3-2 verdict in favour of sending the review petitions to a larger bench. The bench comprised then-Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra, DY Chandrachud and RF Nariman, the latter two of whom wrote dissenting judgements.
In his judgement, Justice Nariman had asked the Kerala government to strictly comply with the court’s 2018 order.
Earlier, commenting on the issue on Friday, Devaswom minister K Surendran, had said that there would be no security for women pilgrims and that ‘activists’ should refrain from turning up at the temple.
The stay on entry of women in the shrine was lifted on September 28, 2018 by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by then-Chief Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justices Khanwilkar, Malhotra, Chandrachud and Nariman. Justice Malhotra was the only dissenting judge on the bench.
The Supreme Court judgement as well as the subsequent entry of two women into the sanctum sanctorum, in January, had triggered violent protests across Kerala.