SC refuses to stay judgement in Ayyappa temple issue; will hear plea next year
The Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to hear on January 22 in open court the pleas seeking review of its verdict which allowed entry of women of all age groups into Kerala's Sabarimala temple but refused to stay the judgement.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in 4:1 verdict had paved the way for the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
The review petitions against the verdict were taken up 'in-chamber' by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
"All the Review Petitions along with all pending applications will be heard in Open Court on 22nd January 2019 before the appropriate Bench. We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this Court dated 28th September 2018 passed in Writ Petition (Civil) No.373 of 2006 (Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. vs. The State of Kerala & Ors)," the order said.
In the in-chamber proceedings, the judges examine the review petitions by circulation and lawyers were not present.
There are around 48 petitions seeking review of the judgement and they were filed following the recent violent protests in favour and against the verdict.
Earlier in the day, the top court had made it clear that fresh pleas related to the matter will be heard only after it decides the earlier petitions seeking review of the judgment.
The bench stated this while hearing the three fresh petitions filed by G Vijaya Kumar, S Jaya Rajkumar and Shailaja Vijayan challenging its September 28 verdict.
When a lawyer in the forenoon said that the apex court should hear the petitions in an open court, the bench said, "You are not fair to the bench. We do not want to say anything beyond this".
The top court had on October 9 declined an urgent hearing on the review plea filed by an association which had contended that the five-judge Constitution bench's verdict lifting the ban was "absolutely untenable and irrational".
A plea filed by the National Ayyappa Devotees Association (NADA), which has sought review of the verdict, had said: "The notion that the judgment under review is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation, is unfounded.
"It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse."
Besides the association, several other petitions, including one by the Nair Service Society (NSS), have been filed against the apex court verdict.
The NSS had said in the plea that as the deity is a 'Naistika Brahmachari', females below the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him and there is no practice of excluding worship by females.
"Hence, the delay or wait for 40 years to worship cannot be considered as exclusionary and it is an error of law on the face of the judgement," the plea had said.
(With inputs from agencies.)