In a major development in the Sabarimala temple row, the Supreme Court on Wednesday has asked the Kerala government to come up with a law exclusively for the Sabarimala temple’s administration and welfare of the pilgrims visiting the temple. The SC has given the Kerala Government a deadline of four weeks to form a new law for the temple. Earlier the Supreme Court referred the case to a 7-judge bench. The Court also said that the larger bench would go beyond the issue of Sabarimala and would consider practices of all faith.
In August, the SC had asked the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to come forth and make a special law for the administration of the Sabarimala temple. After that, the standing counsel for the Kerala government had told SC that around 150 temples are under the administration of the board and there will be a common law for all these temples. Keeping the administration and welfare of the pilgrims of Sabarimala temple at high priority, Justice Raman told the Kerala government to make an exclusive law for Sabarimala.
Meanwhile, on November 15, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran stated that the government will not give permission or protection to women activists who come to Sabarimala while addressing reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. He added that Sabarimala was not a place for activism and that women devotees only with proper permission from the court. Sources report that the Kerala Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad has advised the government to not permit women into the shrine till there is clarity on the recent Supreme Court verdict.
Pronouncing the verdict on the review petitions of Sabarimala, the Supreme Court on November 14, referred the case to a larger SC bench. While pronouncing the verdict, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that the idea behind the review petitions was to revive the debate as to what is an integral part of a religion. CJI observed that all religious groups have a right to practice their religions freely. He said the debate about the constitutional validity regarding the entry of women into places of religious worship is not limited to this case and said that it is also is seen in cases where women are not allowed to enter the Dargah. In light of no alternate verdict from the top court, the previous judgment by the top court allowing entry of women stays in place.
The CJI added that it’s time the top court evolves a judicial policy to do complete justice to constitutional principles. The top court highlighted that the issues arising in the Sabarimala case and regarding Muslim women and Parsi women may be overlapping. The 5-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Nariman, Justice Khanwilkar, Justice Chandrachud, and Justice Malhotra then referred the Sabarimala review pleas to a 7-member larger bench by a 3:2 verdict. While delivering its verdict, the apex court clubbed the entry of women in mosques and the tower of silence, the legality of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community along with the Sabarimala issue. But there will not be a stay on the earlier judgment which allowed the entry of women between the age group of 10 to 50 years into Sabarimala temple.