The Supreme Court on Thursday did not stay its September 28, 2018 order allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple.
The apex court, however, referred to a larger bench, the review petitions against the verdict allowing entry of women into Kerala’s Lord Ayappa Temple.
The Supreme Court, by a majority of 3:2, referred the review petitions to a larger 7-judge Constitution bench. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud gave a dissenting judgement.
The larger bench will decide religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women into mosques, practice of female genital mutilation, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The review petitions were being heard by a Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
Referring the review pleas to a larger bench, CJI Ranjan Gogoi observed that “the entry of women into places of worship is not limited to this temple, but is also involved in the entry of women into mosques and Parsi temples.”
Considering the debate also pertains to allowing Muslim and Parsi women to enter religious practice, the CJI said.
While referring to restrictions on the entry of women into mosques, CJI Gogoi said that the Supreme Court should evolve a common policy on religious places like Sabarimala. “Restrictions on women in religious places is not restricted to Sabarimala alone, prevalent in other religions also,” he said.
Justice Fali Nariman said organised act of resistance against the verdict must be put down and expected Kerala to preserve rule of law.
On September 28, last year, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple sparking widespread protests by Hindu groups across Kerala.
The five-judge Constitution Bench had junked the age-old tradition of the Lord Ayyappa temple by a majority verdict of 4:1.
“Right to worship is given to all devotees and there can be no discrimination on the basis of gender,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had observed.
Justice Indu Malhotra who presented a dissenting opinion said, “the court should not interfere in matters of faith”.
The temple which opened its doors for a five-day monthly pooja on October 17 witnessed massive protests by various devotee groups and Hindu outfits against the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s decision to implement the apex court order without going for any review petition.