Social activist and petitioner of Sabarimala case, Rahul Easwar has welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to refer the case to a seven-judge bench. In a media interaction after the SC decision was out, Easwar said, “There is an implicit admission that the earlier verdict should be reviewed. I think that is a positive step in the right direction and we should welcome that.”
Speaking on whether the women will be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in continuation with the 2018 verdict by High court, Easwar called India a land of pluralism giving freedom to practice diverse faiths adding that there shouldn’t be any interference in the faiths and beliefs systems. “Please don’t interfere in any faith matter, India is a land of great pluralism and faith freedom. It is the greatness of India that we are culturally so diverse.”
However, there is no stay on the women from entering the temple. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the question of whether women of all ages should be allowed into Sabarimala was part of a larger debate that also includes issues like allowing Muslim and Parsi women to enter religious practice.
On September 28, 2018, the SC lifted the ban on the entry of women belonging to all age groups in the Sabarimala temple. This sparked off huge protests across Kerala. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the shrine, argued that the SC could not interfere with a century-old belief. The ban on entry of women has been justified on the grounds that Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity is celibate. On the other hand, the government of Kerala supported the verdict maintaining that religious practices that clashed with fundamental rights could be set aside. After hearing the review petition filed by the TDB, Pandalam Royal Family and a group of devotees, the Constitution bench had reserved its verdict on February 5.