A Delhi-based lawyer, who had filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, on Friday sought to withdraw the case, alleging that he has received 500 threatening phone calls.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and NV Ramana, however, told Naushad Ahmed Khan, president of the Young Lawyers Association of India (YLAI), that it would not allow the withdrawal, saying, “Once a public interest litigation (PIL) is filed and entertained, you cannot withdraw it.”
The bench said it may appoint an amicus curiae to assist the court on the PIL, which has questioned the temple board’s decision to deny entry to women devotees aged 10-50 years.
Earlier, the SC had termed as unconstitutional the practice of prohibiting women devotees from entering temples, contending such a restriction could be justified on the grounds of religion.
The 10-year-old petition filed by YLAI has faulted the Travancore Devaswom Board’s policy to not allow women inside the temple after they attain puberty. Post-menopausal women, however, are allowed.
The board opposed the PIL and sought its dismissal on the grounds that the Congress-led Kerala government supported the temple’s stand.
The Madras high court had, in 1991, upheld the prohibition. In 2015, the board’s chairman had stirred up a hornet’s nest when he said women should be allowed in the temple only after a machine to detect their purity is invented.