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The Supreme Court on Friday reiterated that its September 2018 verdict on the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple was not the last word on the subject. The court also declined to direct the Kerala government to provide safe passage to women devotees who wanted to pray at the Sabarimala temple.

“The court does not want to instigate violence at the temple. The law and order situation may be compromised if the court rules in favour of the petitioner… the situation should not become explosive,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said on Friday while passing order on a petition filed by two women, Bindu Ammini and Rahna Fathima. Both the women petitioners wanted the court to direct the state government to give protection as they try to make their way into the Sabarimala temple. The former had tried to enter the Sabarimala temple on November 26, a few days after it opened for the annual pilgrimage season. She was met with a pepper stray attack by Ayyappa devotees.

When senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the petitioner said that Ammini had been denied entry into the Sabarimala temple by the Kerala government, CJI Bobde said, “We do not want any violence. There is a judgement but it is definitely not the last one.”

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising also appearing for the petitioners said, “We are all here to avoid violence and we do not encourage violence. I am representing a woman Bindu who also happens to be a Dalit. She entered the temple without any violence, after the judgement was passed.”

She added, “We are basing our claim on an operative order.”

CJI Bobde replied, “We are exercising discretion in not passing an order in your case. We are not passing any order that she may not enter the temple. It is simply that we are not passing any order.”

When Jaising asked that the review petition be listed at the earliest possible date, CJI Bobde ordered that it be listed earliest after the decision of the seven member constitution bench.

The Supreme Court in September last year in a majority verdict, 4:1, had permitted women of all age groups to visit the Sabarimala temple. The court had said that bias on biological grounds was an infringement of fundamental rights like the Right to Equality. In November this year, the SC had accepted a batch of 65 review petitions against the 2018 verdict and said a larger bench will hear the matter.

—India Legal Bureau

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