The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it will consider fresh batch of pleas seeking a review of its September 28 verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala only after deciding on the current pleas.
"Fresh pleas will be heard after deciding petitions seeking review of Sabarimala judgement allowing women of all age groups into shrine," the apex court said.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple saying that the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
On Tuesday, a fresh batch of petitions seeking review of the judgement was expected to be taken up for consideration in-chamber by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The apex court's judgement has led to protests and counter-protests at the hill-top shrine in Kerala.
The top court had on October 9 declined an urgent hearing on the review plea filed by an association which had contended that the five-judge Constitution bench's verdict lifting the ban was "absolutely untenable and irrational".
Later, the court had said that it would consider the review pleas on November 13.
A plea filed by National Ayyappa Devotees Association (NADA), which has sought review of the verdict, had said that "the notion that the judgment under review is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation, is unfounded. It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse".
Besides the Association, several other petitions including one by Nair Service Society (NSS), have been filed against the apex court verdict.
The NSS had said in the plea that as the deity is a 'Naistika Brahmachari', females below the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him and there is no practice of excluding worship by females.
"Hence, the delay or wait for 40 years to worship cannot be considered as exclusionary and it is an error of law on the face of the judgement," the plea had said.
KERALA GOVERNMENT OPPOSES PLEA TO RESTRAIN NON-HINDUS, NON-IDOL WORSHIPPERS IN SABARIMALA TEMPLE
The Kerala government on Monday strongly opposed a plea by a BJP functionary, seeking to restrain non-Hindus and non-idol worshippers inside the Sabarimala temple, saying the hill shrine was a "secular temple" where devotees of all faiths visit for offering prayers.
In its preliminary objection filed in the court against BJP functionary T G Mohan Das's plea, the government submitted that it was an openly debated fact that Sabarimala was originally a place of worship which belonged to tribals.
There is also another school of thought that it was a Buddhist temple and the word 'Saranam' was derived from Buddhism, it said.
Das argued that the entry of non-Hindus and non-idol worshippers into the 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex) violated the Supreme Court verdict and rules of the Kerala Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965.
Rejecting the claim, the CPI(M)-led state government said it was a historically accepted fact that Sabarimala is a secular temple, where entry of devotees is not restricted on the ground of any caste or religion.
"It is also a fact that 'Vavar Nada' (place dedicated to Muslim saint Vavar, believed to be a friend of Lord Ayyappa) at Sannidhanam co-existed with the Sabarimala temple, and from time immemorial Muslims come and pray there as well as at the Sabarimala temple," the government said.
It pointed out that en route to Sabarimala at Erumeli, there is a mosque 'Vavar Palli', where all Ayyappa devotees, irrespective of caste and religion traditionally offer prayers and only then proceed towards Sabarimala.
The government said the famous 'Petta Thullal', an essential part of the Sabarimala pilgrimage, starts from the Vavar mosque.
It submitted that the famous 'Harivarasanam', the lullaby of Lord Ayyappa, was sung by Padma Bhushan awardee K J Yesudas, who is a Christian by birth. The singer is understood to be a Lord Ayyappa devotee and used to visit Sabarimala and pray there, the government said.
The state said it was a well known fact that several Christians and Muslims are devotees of Lord Ayyappa and go on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala every year.
It said the Waqf Board, Muslim organisations, Vavar Trust, Christian organisations and tribal outfits were necessary parties before taking any decision on the petition.
The government also said when larger public interest of different religions and secular issues was involved, the issue cannot be adjudicated by the court without publication in newspapers and the media.
Earlier, considering the petition by the BJP functionary, the high court had observed that the Lord Ayyappa temple belonged to all and it was a shrine where devotees of all faiths could enter to offer prayers.
KERALA GOVERNMENT LIKELY TO CONVENE ALL-PARTY MEETING ON SABARIMALA ISSUE THIS WEEK
The Kerala government is likely to convene an all-party meeting to discuss various matters relating to the Sabarimala temple, which has been rocked by the issue of entry of women in the menstrual age, ahead of the annual pilgrim season commencing this week.
"We are thinking of having an all-party meeting. We have not taken a final decision yet. There are plans...," Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
The hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala opens on November 17 for the two-month long season in the backdrop of continuing protests against the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the temple.