Nine-judge bench won’t hear Sabarimala case for more than 10 days, says CJI
The nine-judge bench set up to hear petitions on Sabarimala and other issues may wrap up hearings within 10 days, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde indicated on Tuesday.
Chief Justice Bobde had earlier this month set up the bench to decide constitutional questions that were raised by a five-judge bench that last year heard the review petition against the Sabarimala verdict.
Chief Justice Bobde had then asked the parties to reframe the questions that the nine-judge constitution bench should answer, just as they had done for the Ayodhya land title dispute.
One meeting was convened by the Registrar General of the top court on January 17 in this context.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Tuesday told the court that the lawyers who attended this meeting could not arrive at a consensus on the issues, division of the issues among the lawyers and the time to be allotted to these issues.
The top court has already made it clear that the nine judges would not be deciding the Sabarimala review petitions but only the larger issues that had been flagged.
The court in its November 14, 2019 judgment observed that practices entailing restriction on entry of women in places of worship, and other religious practices that affect women were not limited to the Sabarimala case, but also arose in respect of three other cases pending before the Supreme Court. One was on entry of Muslim women in a durgah/mosque, and another case was about the entry of Parsi women married to non-Parsi men into the holy fire place of an Agyari. The third case, the court noted, was regarding the practice of female genital mutilation among the Dawoodi Bohra community.
The court said that the issues concerning women’s rights vis-à-vis religious practices require consideration by a larger bench of not less than seven judges so as to ensure that a judicial policy is evolved to do substantial and complete justice. The court also framed seven questions to be decided by the larger bench, stating that the review petitions should be decided only after the larger legal issues are settled.