The Supreme Court has referred the review petition against the Sabarimala verdict to a larger 7-judge bench. The court said that the issue of whether or not women should be allowed entry into the Sabarimala is part of a larger debate that includes entry of Muslim women into mosques, female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community among others and this should be decided by a larger bench.
The court had earlier, by a majority 4:1 verdict, in September 2018 lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala. 56 review petitions and some fresh writ petitions were filed challenging the verdict.
Suvidutt Sundaram, counsel for petitioner of Sabarimala Case said, “I am overwhelmed with today’s judgement of the honorable Supreme Court referring the Sabarimala matter to a larger bench of 7 judges.”
“We were expecting that this matter would be referred to a larger bench for multiple reasons. There are so many seminal issues which are involved in this particular matter, there are so many conflicting provisions at play, and all these things will be addressed by a larger bench,” he added.
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Tara Krishnaswamy, an activist said, “Clearly this is a contentious issue and that is why you do not see an outright majority in the decision making if you will. However, that said, there is a famous saying ‘your right ends where mine begins’. When people say women have the right to pray and then there is an article of freedom of religion, how do you balance the two?"
Speaking about whether women should be allowed entry until interim orders, Syed Zafar Islam the spokesperson of BJP said, “We must understand that the matter is sub judice. There are certain reservations the people who have faith in the religion, there are certain restrictions and there are certain reservations they have and that is why they had to approach the honorable Supreme Court. The honorable Supreme Court felt that it has something to do with faith and something to do with devotees and that it should be referred to the 7-judge bench who can deliberate discuss and understand the context every possible way before delivering a judgment."