The Supreme Court has refused to ban the entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappa as of now. However, the court has referred the matter to a larger bench. Now a seven-judge bench will deliberate upon this case. This happened after the two judges in the existing bench disagreed to arrive at an agreement on the issue.
While hearing the Sabarimala case, the Supreme Court said that the case would not only affect this particular temple but also the entry of women in mosques and the entry of Parsi women in Agariya. The Supreme Court said that traditions should be in accordance with the supremely accepted rules of religion. With this, the Supreme Court has handed over the Sabarimala case to a larger bench. Now a bench of seven judges will hear this matter. On Thursday, a five-judge bench referred the matter to a larger bench with a 3:2 decision.
Until a few years ago, menstruating women were not allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. In the past few years, the issue was raised in the Supreme Court by some feminist organisations, after which the Supreme Court ruled in their favour. The court, in its judgment, allowed women to enter the temple.
A review petition was filed before the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi against this verdict of the court, citing tradition and religious issues. Hearing this matter, the Supreme Court has allowed a status quo on its previous judgment.
Earlier, on 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court had given a decision allowing all women to enter the temple. The court had said that preventing the entry of women into the temple on the basis of gender was a discriminatory practice, which violated the fundamental right of women.
The review petitioners, on the other hand, argued that the women who wanted to enter the Sabarimala temple were not members of the sect in the first place and that these women activists were merely making a political point before which they had never shown any interest in Sabarimala.
Advocate J Sai Deepak who has been fighting the Sabarimala case as well as enlightening the people about it described today’s action by the Supreme Court as “foot in the door“.