The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved for February 10 its verdict on whether it could refer questions of law to a larger bench in a review petition.
The judgement was reserved by a nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which heard the issues connected to discrimination against women at various religious places including the Sabarimala temple.
The court said after pronouncing its order on February 10, it will commence day-to-day hearing from February 12.
On Monday, the court had said it will frame issues in view of the Sabarimala temple case and commence hearing of arguments next week.
The other judges on the bench were Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, MM Shantanagoudar, SA Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant.
During the arguments, which concluded today, Justice Bobde said all the counsels were in agreement that the court could frame the issues, including the preliminary issue of the possibility of reference in review jurisdiction.
“We are only going to decide the interpretation of those articles which have been invoked in the Sabarimala (case),” the CJI had said.
After the arguments began, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, had read out the provisions under the Supreme Court rules to say that a matter could be referred to a larger bench when the court feels that some questions need to be decided by a bench of larger strength.
Mehta read out the provisions under the Supreme Court rules to say that a matter may be referred to a larger bench when the court feels that some questions need to be decided by a bench of larger strength.
Several senior advocates, including Fali S Nariman, Kapil Sibal, Shyam Divan, Rajeev Dhavan and Rakesh Dwivedi had, however, argued that while exercising the review jurisdiction, the apex court did not have the power to refer a question of law to a larger bench.
A three-judge bench of the apex court had last Thursday expressed disappointment over the lack of consensus among counsels on the framing of legal questions on the issue of discrimination faced by women over entry to religious places, including Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple.
A five-judge bench, which was hearing the review matter of the September 28, 2018 judgement, had referred seven questions on November 14, 2019 for consideration by a larger bench while the minority judges had posed a few more questions relating to similar disputes in other faiths.
Last year, an apex court bench had said that the September 28, 2018 judgement in the Sabarimala matter was not the last word of the court, thus tentatively delaying the hearing in women’s rights activists’ plea for protection to women between the ages of ten and 50 years wishing to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.
Here is a detailed post on the Supreme Court’s observations in the September 2018 judgement.
— India Legal Bureau