The Supreme Court on Thursday said its 2018 verdict on the entry of women into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple was not the “final word” as it had already referred review petitions against it to a larger bench, PTI reported. “There is [an order] for a much larger bench to decide the matter,” the bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said. “There is no final word as yet.”
The bench was hearing a request for an urgent hearing of a plea filed by activist Bindu Ammini, who said she had been attacked when she tried to enter the Ayyappa shrine. The court agreed to list the plea for hearing next week.
Ammini was attacked with pepper spray while seeking security to trek to the Ayyappa temple along with Trupti Desai and four others on November 26. Ammini was one of the two women who had entered the hilltop shrine last year too.
Ammini’s lawyer Indira Jaising said she was attacked just outside the police commissioner’s office.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear another activist’s plea in the matter. Lawyer Colin Gonsalves, arguing on behalf of AS Fathima, sought directions to Kerala government to ensure safe passage of all women to the Sabarimala temple, regardless of their age or religion. That plea will also be heard next week.
On September 28, 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench, which included former Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had allowed women of all ages to enter the Ayyappa temple, leading to massive protests. Only a handful of women managed to enter the shrine. On November 14, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had ruled, in a 3:2 verdict, that a larger bench should again consider the matter of the entry of women of all ages into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.
The plea that the Supreme Court judgement of September 2018 has not been stayed in review of the latest decision, according to The Hindu. She said the Kerala government was acting in gross contempt of the court’s decision by not allowing entry of women of menstruating age to the temple.
Fathima also alleged that the state government was giving a “free hand” to unlawful elements to harass and attack women en route to worship at the Sabarimala temple. “Direct immediate cessation of age verification and counselling done by the police officials at the behest of state of Kerala discouraging women of menstruating age from visiting Sabarimala and initiate appropriate proceedings against any state officials or private individuals who act in defiance of the orders of this court,” the plea said.