New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to go for open court hearings of the 49 petitions seeking a recall of its order permitting females of all age groups to pray at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Until then, the order will remain valid.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra decided to hear on January 22 the petitions seeking a recall of the September 28 order.
But they made it clear that there would be no stay on the September 28 order lifting the ban enforced till then on girls and women in the 10-50 age group from praying at the Sabarimala temple.
“Applications for hearing of review petitions in open court are allowed,” the court said.
But the bench added: “We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this Court dated 28th September.”
The September ruling had generated passions in Kerala, with traditionalists and the Hindu rightwing openly opposing the directive.
Tuesday’s order came after the judges considered the review petitions in their chambers.
The open court hearing of the review petitions is likely to see it being clubbed with another three fresh writ petitions that were listed on Tuesday morning. But the hearing on them was deferred awaiting the outcome of the review petitions later in the day.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph before which the three fresh petitions were listed for hearing on Tuesday morning asked the petitioners to wait for the outcome of the review petitions.
Gogoi said if they decided to dismiss the batch of review petitions, then the fresh appeals would be listed to be considered separately. But if they decided to uphold the review petitions, then these would be tagged along with them.
The prayers in the fresh petitions effectively boil down to upholding the practice of the Sabarimala temple of prohibiting the entry of girls and women between in the age group of 10 to 50 years.
The National Association of Aayappa Devotees, the Nair Service Society and 47 other organisation have moved the review petition seeking a recall of September 28 verdict.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had junked the age-old tradition of the Lord Ayyappa temple by a majority verdict of 4:1.
It said that the ban on women in the menstruating age group, whose presence at the Sabarimala temple was considered “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.
The petitioners have argued that besides “patent legal errors” in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice was based on notions of menstrual impurity was factually erroneous.
Pointing to the massive protests against the verdict by women worshippers, the petitioners contended that these “clearly demonstrate that overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of women”.