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SC reserves Sabarimala verdict, TDB says “will respect verdict”

Prime News, Nation, (Thiruvananthapuram), February 6:-The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved verdict on a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 28, 2018 judgement that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard submissions on behalf of parties including the Kerala government, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), Nair Service Society and others and said that it would pronounce its order as to whether to review the judgment or not.

The apex court was seized of as many as 64 petitions including review plea. Kerala government, TDB and two women who had entered the shrine opposed the review petitions, including those filed by Nair Service Society. Earlier in the day, TDB, which manages the shrine, told the apex court that they support entry of women of all age groups into the shrine.

Counsel Rakesh Dwivedi for Travancore Devaswom Board said “Any practice which denies an equal right to practice or propogate the religion falls foul of Art. 25. TDB has taken a decision to respect the judgment and not seek review. Various questions of law addressed by the 2018 judgment and how each judge addressed them. We have to transform society and include women in all walks of life. We should not point out biological attributes to exclude women from any walk of life. “Equality” runs through the Constitution,” says Rakesh Dwivedi. Rakesh Dwivedi concludes arguments for Travancore Devaswom Board.

Kerala government tells SC that challenge on ground of untouchability will not affect the verdict. It also said the case cannot be reopened by way of review petitions. “Sabarimala is a public law issue, has to pass test of constitutional validity,” Kerala govt to SC.

The apex court was hearing on pleas seeking review of its verdict which had allowed women of all ages entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. Senior advocate K Prasaran, appearing for Nair Service Society, opened the arguments before a five-judge bench and sought setting aside of the verdict. The review petitions are being heard by a Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. There are 64 cases being heard in total, out of which some are review petitions and some transfer petitions.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the shrine, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination. The verdict had led to massive protests in Kerala and triggered a political slugfest between the ruling CPI(M), the BJP and the Congress.

On November 13 last year, the apex court had agreed to hear in open court in January this year the pleas seeking review of its verdict, but had refused to stay the judgment. However, on January 22, the top court had said it may not start hearing the pleas, seeking review of Sabarimala verdict till January 30 as one of the judges of the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, was on medical leave. Justice Malhotra, the lone woman judge in the bench, had delivered the dissenting judgment in the case last year.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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