The Sabarimala verdict review petitions have been referred to a larger bench. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi decided that the matter would be decided by the seven-judge Bench.
It was a 3-2 split verdict with CJI Gogoi and Justices AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra ruling that the matter should be decided by a larger bench, while Rohington Nariman and DY Chandrachud dissenting .
They felt that the seminal issue of belief was vital and the right of women to enter mosques and that of Parsi women to enter Fire Temple were also connected matters. Courts should tread cautiously in matters of religious beliefs, they said.
However, Justices Rohington Nariman and DY Chandrachud differed from the three others. Their dissenting judgment said the issues of Muslim or Parsi women were not even before this court in the present batch of petition and should be rejected.
There were 65 review petitions filed against the court’s September 2018 verdict allowing the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. The bench had comprised then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Nariman, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, who was the lone dissenter in the verdict (again a split verdict 4:1) which allowed young women in the menstruating age to worship at the shrine. With the LDF Government asserting that it would implement the verdict "at any cost", Hindu groups, including the BJP-RSS combine, took out violent protests against this and blocked entry of young women pilgrims. This caused major furore in the State.
It had then said that "It is a universal truth that faith and religion do not countenance discrimination but religious practices are sometimes seen as perpetuating patriarchy thereby negating the basic tenets of faith and of gender equality and rights."
With the decision to leave the review petitions to a larger bench, law experts said, it was not a final decision. Only review petitions were left to a seven-member bench. However, there was no mention of a stay on the September 28 verdict.