Hyderabad: Several devotees on Thursday celebrated the decision of the Supreme Court to refer review petitions concerning Sabarimala to a larger bench.
“Truly it is a great victory and relief to the devotees of Sabarimala. The judgment has been referred to a seven-judge bench by a ratio of 3:2. The precedent is that if the decision has been sent for a review then the earlier decision does not remain valid,” Archaka Rangarajan said.
The Supreme Court clarified that the right of Muslim women to enter mosques and that of Parsi women to enter fire temple are also connected matters. Noting that courts should tread cautiously in matters of religious beliefs, the court referred the judgment to a seven-judge bench.
The split 3:2 verdict saw Justices Nariman and Chandrachud differ, with Justice Nariman saying the issues of Muslim or Parsi women weren’t even before the Court in the present batch of petitions.
The verdict comes just two days ahead of the Sabarimala Temple reopening for the two-month-long ‘mandalam’ season from November 16.
The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, on September 28, 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the Ayyappa shrine in Kerala and had held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
The bench comprised then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice Indu Malhotra, who was the lone dissenter.
In February 2019, the Supreme Court had reserved judgment after hearing several pleas filed by parties such as the Nair Service Society, the priest of the temple and the Travancore Devaswom Board, seeking a review of the court’s September 28 judgment.
Chilkur Balaji Temple was at the forefront in the Telugu States along with crores of believers in Kerala in organizing special rituals and protests against the 2018 judgment.