The Supreme Court has clarified that it is not discussing the case of women of all age groups entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala as of now. The court on Monday said that it had started the process of deciding the issues discussed in relation to dealing with the case of alleged discrimination against women in different religions.
The nine-judge bench headed by Justice SA Bobde said that it would inform the parties on 6 February about the legal questions and a timeframe fixed in the case. The bench consists of Justice R Banumathi, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice MM Shantanagoudar, Justice S Abdul Nazeer, Justice R Subhash Reddy, Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant.
The bench will consider also whether the subject can be referred to a larger bench for the purpose of reviewing its 2018 verdict.
During the hearing, senior advocates Fali S Nariman, Kapil Sibal, Shyam Dewan and Rakesh Dwivedi said that issues falling within the jurisdiction of a review could not be referred to a larger bench. The senior advocates argued that in the case of a review, the possibilities were very limited and the court could see only if there was a clear error in the judgment against which petitions have been filed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior advocate K Parasaran and Ranjit Kumar, however, opposed the plea. They said that the Supreme Court could refer the case to a larger bench for reviewing issues raised during the verdict on the case.
The bench said it would look into all the issues and decide the questions that are to be decided by the bench of nine judges.
When CJI SA Bobde had selected the new judges in the nine-member bench constituted to hear the matter of the dispute on the entry of women in the temple of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala, Kerala, no judge who was known to hold a rigid, ‘secular’ view on the issue were included in the new bench, sources in the judiciary had told Sirf News on 13 January.
“Normally, when a five-member bench refers a case to a larger bench, a bench of seven judges hears it. Nine is not the norm. In this case, however, CJI Bobde, using his powers under Order 6 Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, constituted this bench of nine judges for hearing all such cases together,” a Sirf News columnist had explained.