New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde Thursday said the Supreme Court’s verdict last year allowing entry of women of all age groups into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple is not the “final word”.
The CJI made the remark while hearing a plea by activist Bindu Ammini, who sought protection for entering the temple. Ammini was last month attacked with pepper spray when she attempted to visit the shrine.
Senior lawyer Prashant Padmanabhan, who was representing Ammini, brought up the issue of the pepper spray attack before the CJI.
Padmanabhan urged the top court to direct Kerala government to ensure Ammini’s safe visit to the temple as she is preparing to visit the shrine in January before the pilgrimage season ends and the temple closes.
The issue of entry of women of all age groups into the temple was also raised before the CJI by senior advocate Indira Jaising, who sought protection for all women visiting the shrine.
CJI Bobde, however, reiterated the Supreme Court’s November verdict this year on the review petitions that challenged the court’s 2018 judgment, saying that a “larger bench” would hear the case and added that the verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the temple was not the “final word”.
The plea by Ammini is likely to be heard by the top court next week.
Also read: Triumph of faith in Ayodhya verdict set to test SC in its Sabarimala review
Cloud over 2018 verdict after CJI’s remark
The remark from the CJI came even as there was no direction in the November review verdict about staying the 2018 order.
On 14 November, a Supreme Court bench led by the then-CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred a batch of petitions seeking to review the 2018 verdict to a seven-judge bench.
The bench will re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into mosques, and the practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community.
While the five-judge bench unanimously agreed to refer the religious issues to a larger bench, it gave a 3:2 split decision on the review pleas.
The minority verdict by Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud gave a dissenting view by dismissing all the review pleas and directing compliance of the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling.
The split decision was delivered on 65 petitions — 56 review petitions, four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas — which were filed after the 2018 verdict sparked violent protests in Kerala.
(Edited by Debalina Dey)
Also read: What the Sabarimala review petition Supreme Court will rule on today is all about
It would be a praiseworthy development in a secular country if high public functionaries avoided overt displays of personal faith and devotion. President Pranab Mukherjee could have celebrated Durga Puja in great style at Rashtrapati Bhavan, but he made it a point to travel to his village and do it with the simplicity which generations of his family would have done. Each Indian citizen, especially a member of a minority community, which in this case would mean a menstruating woman, should have the conviction that her rights will be adjudicated upon by someone who is an atheist.
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