SC agrees to review Sabarimala verdict

The Supreme Court refused to stay its verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple, but agreed to hear in open court on January 22 a batch of review petitions in the matter.

The review petitions against the September 28 verdict were taken up ‘inchamber’ by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. ‘’All the review petitions along with all pending applications will be heard in open court on 22nd January, 2019 before the appropriate bench. We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this court dated 28th September, 2018 passed in writ petition (Civil) No. 373 of 2006 (Indian Young Lawyers’ Association and others vs the State of Kerala and others),’’ the order said.

In the in-chamber proceedings, the judges examine the review petitions by circulation and lawyers are not present. There are 48 petitions seeking review of the judgment.

Earlier in the day, the top court had made it clear that fresh pleas related to the Sabarimala temple will be heard only after it decides the earlier petitions seeking review of the judgment allowing entry of women of all age groups into the shrine in Kerala.

On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.

A plea filed by the National Ayyappa Devotees Association, which has sought review of the verdict, had said, “The notion that the judgment under review is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation, is unfounded. It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse.’’

The Sabarimala chief priest, Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru, has welcomed the SC decision, saying that Lord Ayyappa has heard the prayers of thousands of devotees. He said the SC’s decision to hear the case in an open court has made all devotees happy. “This is a big victory. We believe things will become normal. This is Ayyappa’s victory,’’ he said.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said, “Whatever is the SC verdict, it’s the government’s responsibility to implement it.’’

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