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Nine-judge Bench Upholds Five-judge Ruling On “Right To Pray”; 7 Issues Framed For Hearing

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the 'Right to Pray' verdict and proposed that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the 'Right to Pray' verdict and proposed that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its limited power under the review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala case. The SC has proposed to hear the issues on a day-to-day basis from February 17. 

As per reports, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde framed seven questions that will be heard by a nine-judge Constitutional bench on issues relating to freedom of religion under the Constitution and faith.

The Seven Issues

  • What is the scope and ambit of religious freedom?
  • What is the interplay between religious freedom and freedom of beliefs of religious denominations?
  • Whether rights of religious denominations are subject to fundamental rights?
  • What is morality in the practice of religion?
  • What is the scope of judicial review in matters of religious freedom?
  • What is the meaning of "a section of Hindus" under Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution?
  • Whether a person not belonging to a religious group can file a PIL challenging the practices of that group?

Read: Kerala Government asked to step in, secure Sabarimala jewels as ownership dispute hits SC

The Sabarimala Review

Earlier on January 9, the Supreme Court had set up a 9-judge Constitution Bench which would hear the right to pray matter from January 13 onwards on a day-to-day basis. This development comes nearly two months after a 5-member Constitution Bench comprising former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Nariman, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Malhotra decided to expand the scope of the Sabarimala review pleas clubbing it with the entry of women in mosques and the tower of silence, the legality of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and referred it to a larger bench for adjudication.

Read: SC appoints retired Kerala HC judge for making inventory of ornaments at Sabarimala temple

The nine-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde comprises of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant. In spite of the review, 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 - which has still not been allowed in practice by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the Kerala government.

Read: Coal scam: SC grants time to Centre to suggest names for special public prosecutor

Read: Supreme Court upholds the constitutional validity of SC/ST Amendment Act of 2018

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