The Supreme Court on Thursday said its 2018 verdict allowing entry of girls and women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Kerala’s Sabarimala was not the “final word” as the matter was referred to a larger bench.
The top court’s observation came when senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for a woman devotee, Bindu Ammini, alleged a violation of the 2018 verdict and said her client was attacked for her bid to enter the shrine.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, referring to a recent verdict of the top court, said the 2018 judgment was not the final word as the issue was referred to a seven-judge bench for consideration. “There is (an order) for a much larger bench to decide the matter. There is no final word as yet,” the bench said.
On November 14, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, in a 3:2 majority verdict, had referred the pleas seeking a review of its historic 2018 judgment to a seven-judge bench, along with other contentious issues of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Parsi women.
In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench, by a majority 4:1 verdict, allowed girls and women of all ages to visit the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, saying discrimination on physiological grounds was violative of the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution such as the right to equality.
Jaising said her client was attacked just outside the police commissioner’s office, despite the fact that the earlier judgment allowing entry of all girls and women into the temple was not stayed by the November 14 judgment. “Bindu was attacked with some chemical substance right outside the office of the commissioner of police,” she said.
The bench agreed to list the woman devotee’s plea for hearing next week. “We will list the petition, along with the earlier petition, next week,” it said. Another woman, Fathima, had approached the top court with a similar plea on Wednesday.