Sabrimala verdict

Question: Consider the following statements regarding Sabrimala verdict:
(1) The Supreme Court referred the Sabarimala case to a larger bench consisting of 9 judges.
(2) Worshipping deity in Sabrimala is Lord Ayyappa.
Choose the correct of the above:

(a) Only 1
(b) Only 2
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above
Answer: b
Related facts:
  • The Supreme Court referred the Sabrimala case to a larger bench consisting of 7 judges on 14th November, 2019.
  • The Supreme Court referred petitions seeking a review of its 2018 decision to allow the entry of women of all ages in Kerala’s Sabrimala temple to a larger seven-judge bench.
  • In a majority verdict of 3:2, Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud gave a dissenting view by dismissing all the review pleas and directing compliance of its last year order.
  • The majority verdict — written by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Indu Melhotra — said the ban on women’s entry in religious places is not restricted to Sabrimala alone but was part of a larger debate that also includes other religions.
  • Reading out some portions of the majority view, Chief Justice Gogoi said the petitioners were endeavouring to revive the debate on religion and faith.
  • He added that the apex court should evolve a common policy on religious places like Sabarimala and added that the larger bench will decide the issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women into mosques and practice of female genital mutilation.
  • Stating that pleas relating to Sabarimala, entry of women into mosque and practice of genital mutilation in the Bohra community may require adjudication by a larger bench, the court decided to keep pending the pleas seeking a review of its 2018 order.
  • However, the majority verdict did not say anything adverse against the apex court’s September 28, 2018 decision allowing women to enter the shrine nor did it stay the earlier judgment.
  • The verdict comes just days before the Sabarimala temple opens for the annual ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku’ festival.
  • In 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then CJI Deepak Misra had ruled that banning entry of menstruating women is discriminatory and violates the right to equality.
  • It said discrimination based on menstruation is akin to practicing untouchability as both concepts are rooted in the idea of purity. Justice Melhotra, however, had given a dissenting verdict.
  • The split decision came on 65 petitions — 56 review petitions, four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas — which were filed after the apex court verdict of September 28, 2018 sparked violent protests in Kerala. Temple custodians argue that women of menstrual age are prohibited from offering prayers as the deity there, Ayyappa, is a celibate.


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