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Sabarimala row: Supreme Court to revisit order, open court hearing from Jan 22

Sabarimala row: The Supreme Court had, on September 28, ended a centuries-old ban on women between 10 years and 50 years entering the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, triggering sharp protests.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2018 16:51 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sabarimala Verdict,Sabarimala Case,Sabarimala Temple
The Supreme court had in September ended a centuries-old ban on women between 10 years and 50 years to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.(PTI file photo)

The Supreme Court is open to revisiting its verdict to allow women of all ages into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple that had triggered large-scale protests and violence when the hilltop shrine opened last month for a few days. Five judges led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday said they would hold hear the review petitions in open court from January 22 but made it clear that its earlier judgment is holds.

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“We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgment and order of this court,” the judges said.

The top court had, on September 28, ended a centuries-old ban on women between 10 years and 50 years to enter Sabarimala. In a 4:1 majority verdict, the judges ruled that exclusion on the basis of biological and physiological features was unconstitutional and discriminatory because it denied women the right to be treated as equals.

The ruling, however, had triggered a barrage of protests outside the temple nestled in the Western Ghats. In nearly 46 days, almost 50 petitions also landed before the Supreme Court.

Traditionalists, who believe the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate, had opposed the court verdict and last month stopped dozen-odd women who tried to enter the temple. At one point, the priests even boycotted rituals to force two women attempting to enter the temple to back down.

Petitioners who have challenged the court order say faith cannot be judged by scientific or rational reasons or logic. They say the ban is not on physiological grounds but it is based on the deity’s celibate character.

It is unusual for the Supreme Court to hold open court hearing on review petitions.

The brief ruling was immediately greeted with cheers from the temple’s chief priest and many others.

“It is a great decision. Lord Ayyappa helped us,” the chief priest Rajeevaru Kandarau said.

Kerala’s temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government was committed to going by the court verdict, irrespective of the top court’s ruling.

Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has intensified its Sabarimala campaign, and the Congress have criticised the Kerala government’s handling of the situation and supported the protesters.

The Left government, led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has reiterated that the administration is committed to implementing the court’s September 28 order and has blamed political rivals for politicising the issue.

BJP state president, PS Sreedharan Pillai, who is on a ‘rath yatra’ supporting temple’s customs, had earlier hoped the court would take note of the mounting protests by devotees and take an appropriate decision.”

First Published: Nov 13, 2018 16:08 IST