The Supreme Court bench on Friday decided to refer the Sabarimala matter to a larger bench to give a final verdict.
The top court decided to refer the matter to a larger 7-judge bench. The decision to send the case to a bigger bench was a 3:2 majority ruling, with Justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud dissenting.
Supreme Court ruling was on a bunch of review petitions – which comes around 65( 56 review petitions and some fresh writ petitions ) in all - questioning the September 28, 2018 top court verdict which had allowed women of all ages to worship at the Sabarimala temple.
On September 28, 2018 verdict, struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 which was the basis for barring entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years into the temple.
While four judges- Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud upheld the entry of women of all ages to worship at the temple, Justice Indu Malhotra had penned a dissenting judgment holding that religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of Article 14 of the Constitution. Thus the verdict was passed by a 4:1 majority.
The judgment on Thursday will be pronounced by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. Kerala had witnessed large-scale violence and five shutdowns last year when the CPI(M)-led state government tried to implement the verdict. At least 50,000 protestors were booked at the height of the agitation which also affected pilgrims’ footfall and revenue of the temple frequented by 20 million devotees during the three-month pilgrimage season.
While many devotees who called for status quo at the temple looking for a positive verdict, women activists and others feel that the court is unlikely to topple the four-one majority verdict of the constitution bench that upheld the rights of women.