The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on whether to refer the issue of restrictions on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of Kerala's famous Sabarimala temple to a Constitution Bench or not.
The apex court said that it needed to decide whether certain religious practices can be protected under the Constitution.
"Law, religion and spiritualism are different facets. God is omnipresent, ubiquitous but we need to decide broader constitutional questions," a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.
The bench asked the parties, including the amicus curiae, to furnish the questions which are likely to be referred to the larger bench.
"Judgment reserved on the question whether the matter should go to a larger bench or not," the bench said.
"Counsel for the parties shall file written submissions/ questions which should fall under the constitutional framework, that is likely to be referred to the larger bench," the bench said.
The apex court also allowed several applications, filed in support as well as against the ban on entry of women in the temple, seeking impleadment in the matter.
On November 7 last year, the Kerala government informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.
Initially, the LDF government had taken a progressive stand in 2007 by favouring women's entry in the temple, which was over-turned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation later.
The UDF, before losing power to the LDF this year, had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years into the temple as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.
The apex court had on July 11, 2016, indicated that it may refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of the centuries-old practice of barring entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the historic Sabarimala temple, saying it pertains to violation of fundamental rights.
It had observed that women are conferred with constitutional rights and it would pass a detailed order in case the matter is referred to such a constitution bench.
The apex court had earlier questioned the practice of barring entry of women to Sabarimala temple, saying it would test whether "faith and belief" can differentiate among persons of the same denomination.
The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.
(With PTI inputs)