Sabarimala row: Supreme Court to hear review petitions against allowing women entry on 13 November

The Supreme Court on 13 November will hear writ petitions and review petitions against the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in Sabarimala temple in Kerala, four days ahead of the commencement of the pilgrimage season.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that the court is aware that there are 19 review petitions against the court’s verdict in the matter and has listed the hearing for 13 November at 3 pm.

 Sabarimala row: Supreme Court to hear review petitions against allowing women entry on 13 November

File image of Supreme Court. PTI

A review petition is normally considered by the judges of the same bench that had delivered the verdict. A call on hearing the plea would be taken up, the Chief Justice said after the National Association of Aayappa Devotees sought an early hearing of their review petitions.

There are 19 petitions before the top court seeking the recall of the verdict that had removed the centuries-old practice prohibiting the entry of women who are in the of menstruating age.

Meanwhile, the TDB will meet in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday to take a decision on the legal course to be taken in the court, its chief A Padmakumar said. "Discussions are going on with the legal experts. The TDB is viewing the issue with utmost seriousness," he added.

Contending that religious practices cannot be "tested on the basis of rationality", the petitioners have sought a recall of the verdict raising points of procedural error in the judgment.

The five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had removed the age-old tradition of the Lord Ayyappa temple by a majority verdict of 4:1. It said that the ban on women in menstruating age group, whose presence at the Sabarimala temple was considered to be "impure", violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.

The review plea by the Nair Service Society, one of the petitioners, said "without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance effectively 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 petitioners have also argued that besides "patent legal errors" in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice is based on notions of menstrual impurity is "factually erroneous".

Pointing to massive protests against the verdict by women worshippers, the petitioners have contended that "the subsequent events that transpired after the judgment clearly demonstrate that overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers is supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of women..."

The doors to Sabarimala temple closed on Monday night and will open again on 17 November for the three-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku celebrations when lakhs of devotees from the country and abroad visit the place every year.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 23, 2018 11:29:36 IST