The review petitions argue that ‘reform’ does not mean rendering a religious practice out of existence on the basis of a PIL filed by “third parties”
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday denied an oral plea for urgent listing of review petitions filed against the September 28 judgment allowing women of all ages entry into the famed Sabarimala temple even as Kerala is yet to come to terms with the verdict.
The Chief Justice rejected the oral mentioning made by advocate Mathews Nedumpara, representing one of the review pleas filed by Shylaja Vijayan, president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association. The lawyer wanted the court to take up the review plea before the court closes for Dussehra holidays on October 12. A plea to stay the Sabarimala judgment was also declined.
A Constitution Bench of the apex court, in a majority of 4:1, had upheld the 12-year-old PIL filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association challenging the prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 from undertaking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple. The Bench found that a restriction on women solely based on her menstrual status was a smear on her individual dignity. It was like “treating women as the children of a lesser God is to blink at the Constitution”. It was a “form of untouchability” abolished decades ago. The ban on women was derogatory to equal citizenship. The right to practice religion should yield to the right of dignity of women aged between 10 and 50.
The Nair Service Society (NSS), in its review petition settled by senior advocate K. Parasaran and filed by advocate K.V. Mohan, contended that the court should take judicial notice that an “overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of females between the age of 10 and 50 years at Sabarimala temple”.
The lifting of the prohibition at the instance of third parties, in spite of opposition by a large section of women worshippers, is anomalous, the petition said.
The review filed by Chetna Conscience of Women, represented by advocate K.V. Muthu Kumar, argued that a Pandora’s box would be opened if a constitutional court began entertaining petitions which purely pertain to faith, customs, practices and beliefs.