The Supreme Court today reserved its judgment on the petitions seeking review of the verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi reserved its verdict in 65 petitions, which included 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions.
Opening his argument senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the Nair Service Society, said, “The exclusionary practice in Sabarimala is based on the character of the deity.”
“Untouchability has nothing to do here. Entry (to Sabarimala temple) is sought to be prohibited only due to nature of deity. It is not an exclusionary practice,” said advocate V Giri appearing for the priest. Talking about the exclusion of women at Sabarimala temple, the Kerala government submitted, “If it’s a denominational temple only then the question of essential practice will arise.”
“The Jagannath temple is unique in it’s practise and yet this court has held it’s not a denominational temple. Similarly, Kashi Vishwanath and Tirupati have been said not to be denominational,” it said.
During today’s hearing, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which runs the Sabarimala temple, took a U-turn by supporting the Supreme Court’s verdict, which had allowed women of all age groups to enter the shrine.
The Board, which also comprise the state government nominees, told a five-judge Constitution Bench that it is high time that a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of “biological attributes”.
In the forenoon, the Kerala government took the stand that it was in agreement with the September 28 last year verdict and had urged dismissal of petitions seeking review of the verdict.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the shrine, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
The apex court’s verdict had sparked violent protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees on grounds that women of reproductive age should not be allowed into the temple dedicated to the celibate god.