SC Sabarimala verdict challenged, plea filed to review court order

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking review of the Constitution bench judgement which lifted the ban on entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala

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NH Web Desk

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking review of the Constitution bench judgement which lifted the ban on entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.

The representatives of Sabarimala temple's 'tantri' (chief priest) will not attend a conciliation meeting called by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that threw open the temple to all women, it was announced on Sunday, October 7. The meeting was scheduled to be held on Monday, October 8. Following the verdict, Vijayan had categorically said that no review petition would be filed and the state government will do all the things needed to implement it.

The plea, filed by Shylaja Vijayan, president of National Ayyappa Devotees Association, said the September 28 judgment which had allowed entry of women of all ages in the hill-top shrine is "absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse".

In her petition, Shylaja Vijayan said the Supreme Court verdict affects the fundamental rights of millions of devotees of Ayyappa. "The petitioners believe that no legal luminary, not even the greatest of jurists or a judge, can be a match to the common sense and wisdom of the masses. No judicial pronouncement, even of the highest judicial tribunal in this country... can be a match for 'the voice of the people'," the petition read.The petitioner is not a party to the case in the top court.

The Nair Service Society, a body of Kerala's influential Nair Community, will file challenge the verdict by filing a review petition in the top court.

On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had in its 4:1 verdict, said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women

"Let us hear the final decision of the state government with regards to the filing of a review petition against the apex court's verdict. Once that is known, then we will decide on what needs to be done. To deploy female police personnel in the temple premises is a violation of the temple practices," Sabarimala priest Kantararu Mohanaru told the media.

Things went out of control after the state government and the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), who is the custodian of the temple, decided not to file the petition leading to hundreds of devotees taking to the streets in protest.

A Padmakumar, a senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and TDB President, said the Board was initially keen to file the review petition, but after being openly chided by Vijayan, they decided not to.

Rahul Eashwar, another member of the tantri family, said that they have nothing against the Vijayan government but their priority was the emotional attachment of the devotees.

"The key stakeholders of the temple are the state government and the TDB and if they do not file a review petition, then there will be no locus standi to other review petitions. The need of the hour is that these two parties should do the needful," said Eashwar.

On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had in its 4:1 verdict, said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women. Until now, girls below 10 years and women over 50 years were allowed to visit the hilltop shrine.

(with inputs from agencies)

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