The Supreme Court today reserved judgment on 65 petitions, including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions in the Sabarimala temple case.
The Constitutional Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, took the decision after hearing 10 counsel seeking review and those against it by the State Government, the Travancore Devaswom Board and the two women who trekked to the shrine, decided to reserve the case for verdict.
CJI Gogoi asked other petitioners to submit their arguments in a week. This would mean that they would be able to give that by February 13, making it clear that any decision was unlikely before the shrine opens for monthly pujas in the middle of the month.
Unlike in normal circumstances, the Bench retires to the CJI's chamber and announces the decision. But in this case it decided to reserve its judgment.
According to law experts, most of the arguments were ones heard when the court gave its verdict on September 28. They noted that at no time during the over three-hour hearing did the Bench seek more light on any point.
Counsel for the State Government stood by the verdict and felt it was grounded on the premise of equality. Hence, there was no ground for review, it felt. Exclusion of women was not essential to Hindu religion.
The devaswom stood by the judgment and felt that equality was vital. Justice Indu Malhotra, who was the lone member to note her dissent in the bench that ruled for young women entry, pointed out that there was a complete change of stand by the board.
Counsel Rakesh Diwedi said there was the need to move and transform society to include women in all walks of life. This was the present stand of the board. Arguments of those favouring a review were based on rituals and celibate character of the deity.
Advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the Nair Service Society, kicked off the arguments and said there was an apparent error in the judgment as Article 15 of the Constitution did not include religious places as public spaces. Barring young women from worshipping at the shrine was also not against the concept of untouchability as it pertained to caste system which was not a matter here, he argued.
V Giri, appearing for Sabarimala tantri (chief priest) focussed on the peculiar celibate character of the deity and worship had to be in sync with this. Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for former board chief Prayar Gopalakrishnan said Hinduism had diverse traditions across all temples. It was improper to insist on only one type of tradition for all places of worship.
Shekhar Naphde, appearing for Bramhana Sabha, said activists were not entrusted decide things concerned with religions. It was for the community to decide customs and rituals and not courts. He pointed to disturbance of social peace after the verdict.
Indira Jaising, who appeared for the two young women Bindu and Kanakadurga who trekked to the shrine after the verdict, said they were facing death threat. All devotees were equal before the deity and Sabarimala was a public temple and not a family one.
She also raised the purification rituals after the entry of two women and said it was another case of untouchability as they were treated as polluted.