(Image source from: Ndtv.com)
Sabarimala Verdict Relayed To A 7-Judge Bench By Supreme Court:- With the constant tiffs going around the Sabarimala verdict, the nation has been in an uproar trying to gauge the final decision. The Supreme Court referred on the verdict to a 7-member constitution bench with all the available petitions. The same was relayed to again assess the decision of allowing girls and women in the age cohort of 10-50 years to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, in his 3:2 decision stated saying, “Restriction on women in religious places is not restricted to Sabarimala alone, it is prevalent in other religions also.”
He further clarified that extending the verdict to a further panel of review practitioners is to help debate on the religious and the faith grounds. A larger bench will not just focus on the religious grounds associated with the Sabarimala issue but also with the entry of the women into mosques along with the practice of female genital mutilation.
The CJI further clarified that it is the duty of the top court in the country to pass a judgement on the common policy on the religious places like Sabarimala, all the while talking about the restrictions imposed on the restrictions of the women from entering mosques.
Back on September 18, 2018, with a majority verdict of 4:1, the ban of the women from entering Sabarimala premises was lifted. The same then allowed the entry of the girls and women in between the age of 10-50 years from entering the Ayyappa shrine in Kerala, foregoing a century old tradition in the country.
Following that, there was a five judge Constitution bench that was made but experienced open court fights and the final decision was reserved to be announced on February 2019 following hearing the parties. Some of them included Nair Service Society, the thantry of the temple, The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the state government, both for and against the decision.
Following the first announcement of the verdict, there were excessive rallies and protests conducted by the Hindus and the BJP workers following the lift of the ban of the entry of the menstruating women inside the temple premises. The protests further intensified when two women Bindu Ammini, a lecturer at Kerala’s Kannur University, and Kanakadurga entered the temple and offered their prayers.
The TDB, which is the main operational unit running the Sabarimala temple was initially against the verdict but then later supported the Supreme Court’s decision. The board also clarified saying that the change in the decision wasn’t influenced by any kind of political bias.
The Kerala government has been around in a very tumultuous decision, wherein half of the people are for it and some are against it. Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta stated saying that exclusion of the women from the religious practices isn’t something that Hinduism preaches.
Senior advocate K Parasaran, who appeared for the Nair Service Society pulled out the Article 15 and Article 17 stating that both of them clarify no strings associated with women’s entry into the temple. The first one highlights the importance of the secularism in the country while Article 17 deals with the abolition of the untouchability and has no possible correlation to the case.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi also found another point to highlight for the case stated saying, “There is no exclusion of women. There is no exclusion of men. There is no exclusion of a class of men or women based on religion and caste. There is exclusion inside a class (women). Hence Article 17 (removal of untouchability) will not apply.”
Senior advocate V Giri, representative from the shrine thantry clarified that the temple wholeheartedly welcomes every single person, irrespective of gender or even case. He further stated saying, “The fundamental right to worship also includes the character of the deity and every devotee cannot question this character which also formed part of the essential religious practice there.”
With the ongoing controversies, there is going to be further verdicts that come in for the final hearing. That aside, the temple this year around is going to be opened for three month long annual pilgrimage from November 16th, 2019.
By Somapika Dutta