SC may refer Sabarimala temple entry case to larger bench, in wake of 'complexities of issue'

20 February 2017, 11:42 PM
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on whether to refer the matters pertaining to the ban on entry of women aged between 10 to 50 years at Kerala's Sabrimala temple to its constitution bench.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said it would deliver a judgement regarding the "complexities of the issue" and may refer the matter to a larger bench for its consideration.

"We have heard the counsel appearing for the parties. Judgement reserved on the question whether the matter should go to a larger bench or not," the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, said.

The bench asked the parties, including the petitioners, weektheirrespondents and the amicus curiae, to furnish week theirwritten submissions and questions which may be referredto a five-judge constitution bench.

"Counsel for the parties shall file written submissions/questions, which should fall under the constitutionalframework, that is likely to be referred to the larger bench, "the apex court said. The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on ahilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain"purity" on account of menstruation.

The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple.

During the hearing today, the bench observed: "Regarding the complexity of the issue, we will deliver a judgement. Wecan refer the matter to a constitution bench. It (judgement)will create a background for the constitution bench. You can give us the issue which are to be dwelt upon". Senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing theTravancore Devaswom Board which manages the hill-top shrine, argued that the alleged discrimination was not between men and women but between women and women. He said the matter involves interpretation of Articles of the Constitution and argued that, in this matter, Article 26of the Constitution would prevail over Article 25.

Article 26 relates to the freedom to manage religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health andstates that every religious denomination or any section shall have the right to manage its own affairs in matters ofreligion, while Article 25 speaks of freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. 

First Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 11:34 PM
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