SC refuses urgent listing of Sabarimala review pleas

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday rejected an oral plea for urgent listing of review petitions filed against the September 28 judgment allowing women of all ages entry into the famed Sabarimala temple even as Kerala is yet to come to terms with the verdict. The Chief Justice rejected the oral mentioning made by advocate Mathews Nedumpara, representing one of the review pleas filed by Shylaja Vijayan, president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association. Dussehra holidays The lawyer wanted the court to take up the review plea before the court closes for the Dussehra holidays on October 12. A plea to stay the Sabarimala judgment was also declined. The review petitions argue that ‘reform’ does not mean rendering a religious practice out of existence on the basis of a PIL plea filed by ‘third parties’, who do not believe in the Sabarimala deity. A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority of 4:1, had upheld the 12-year-old PIL plea filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association, challenging the prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 from undertaking the pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple. The Bench found that a restriction on women solely based on their menstrual status was a smear on their individual dignity. “Treating women as the children of a lesser God is to blink at the Constitution.” It was a “form of untouchability” abolished decades ago, the Bench said. The ban on women was derogatory to equal citizenship and the right to practise religion should yield to the right of dignity of women aged between 10 and 50, it said. The Nair Service Society, in its review petition settled by senior advocate K. Parasaran and filed by advocate K.V. Mohan, contended that the court should take judicial notice that an “overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of females between the age of 10 and 50 years at Sabarimala temple.” The lifting of the prohibition at the instance of third parties, in spite of opposition by a large section of women worshippers, is anomalous, the petition said. The review filed by Chetna Conscience of Women, represented by advocate K.V. Muthu Kumar, argued that a Pandora’s box would be opened if a constitutional court began entertaining petitions which purely pertain to faith, customs, practices and beliefs.

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