Plea filed by petitioners Kanakdurga and Bindu had claimed there was a threat to their life ever since they entered the sacred shrine
The Supreme Court, on Friday (January 18) directed the State of Kerala to ensure that two women, Kanakdurga and Bindu, who had visited the Sabarimala temple, following the court’s landmark verdict that lifted the centuries-old ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 at the shrine, are provided round the clock security.
The petitioners had, on Thursday, moved a plea in the apex court through senior advocate Indira Jaising claiming that there was a threat to their lives from the right-wing Hindu groups who have consistently been protesting, often violently, against the top court’s historic judgment.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul said that it would hear the plea filed by two women — Kanakdurga and Bindu — on Friday after senior advocate Indira Jaising contended the matter should be heard urgently as one of the women was assaulted by her mother in-law.
The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Dinesh Maheshwari, however, declined Jaising’s prayer for tagging the plea along with the review petition filed in the apex court against its Sabarimala verdict.
The plea has also sought directions to all authorities to allow women of all age groups to enter the temple without any hindrance, in compliance of the Supreme Court’s verdict, and to ensure security and safe passage, including police security, to them.
The top court’s order to the State of Kerala came over the demand of the petitioners to “issue writ of mandamus directing authorities to provide full security, 24×7, to the two women who have entered the temple, and to deal with protesters indulging in acts of violence, physical and/or verbal on social media or otherwise against them in accordance with the law.”
During the proceedings, the counsel for the State of Kerala also submitted a list of a total of 51 women who have entered the Sabarimala Temple to offer their prayers to Lord Ayyappa since the court allowed women of menstruating age to visit the shrine.
It may be recalled that, on September 28 last year, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, ruling that the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
Kanakadurga and Bindu had stepped into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the apex court’s historic judgment. Following the entry of the women into the shrine, the chief priest had decided to close the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to perform the ‘purification’ ceremony.
The top court has said it may not start hearing pleas seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict from January 22 as one of the judges was on medical leave. Earlier, the apex court had decided to hear in open court the review petitions against the verdict. Besides Justice Indu Malhotra and the CJI, Justices R F Nariman, AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud are part of the five-judge constitution bench. It is to be noted that Justice Malhotra had given the dissenting opinion in the judgment that had lifted the ban on women from entering Sabarimala temple.
—India Legal Bureau