Friday, August 19, 2022

Arguments in nine-judge bench Sabarimala reference to be concluded in 10 days, says CJI

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that its nine-judge Constitution bench would wrap up the proceedings in the matter of Sabarimala and other matters relating to discrimination against women in various religions and religious places, within 10 days.

The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said questions to be dealt with would be purely legal in nature, and, therefore it would not take more time to conclude the hearing.

The matter was heard by a three-judge bench comprising justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the lawyers could not reach consensus on the framing of issues to be considered on the larger questions of faith and fundamental rights referred to in the Sabarimala review case.

On January 13, the Supreme Court had already made it clear that it will not decide anything on the Sabarimala review petitions, but only examine the larger issues pertaining to the matter.

The top court in November, last year had observed that the entry of women into places of worship is not just limited to the Sabarimala temple, but also includes women in other religions not being allowed to enter religious places.

The decision in the review petitions filed against the Sabarimala judgment was kept pending by the Supreme Court, on making a reference to a larger bench to decide the larger question of law as to what constitutes essential practices and to what extent the court can intervene.

A five-judge bench of the court had, by a majority verdict on September 28, 2018, allowed women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala following which several review petitions were filed.

In November last year, a bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had allowed the review petitions and referred the matter to a bench of at least seven judges.

After taking over as the Chief Justice, Justice Bobde had decided that the questions would be taken up by a nine-judge bench.

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