The Bench said that the writ petitions will be heard subject to the decision of the review petitions filed against the Sabarimala verdict.
Meanwhile, a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, reviewed the facilities at Sabarimala, where the two-month pilgrim season will commence from 17 November. This will be an in-chamber hearing, meaning that it will not be held in open court.
As reported by Bar and Bench recently, a bench of justices U.U. Lalit and Ashok Bhushan chose to hear a review petition in open court, after the review petitioner, Avinash Kumar, made a convincing plea in his petition to reopen the case, decided by the bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Lalit on August 25 previous year.More news: Armistice Day: White House defends Trump WW1 no-show
The pleas were filed against the SC judgement on September 28 in which a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had paved the way for the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple. The Supreme Court verdict had triggered largescale protests in the state where various groups came forward to oppose the move on the basis that it breaks the age-old tradition of the temple that bars women of menstruating age from entring the temple. There are around 48 petitions seeking review of the judgement. Those who support the ban argued that the temple board constituted a separate religious denomination and, hence, entitled to protection under the Constitution that allows citizens to practise one's religion and manage institutions under it, a contention rejected by the court. "The government is left with no other option but to implement the Supreme Court order".
To further substantiate its stance that the temple is a secular place, the government said it was a well-known fact that several Christians and Muslims are devotees of Lord Ayyappa and go on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala every year.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the review petitions in his chamber earlier the day. "We are really grateful to all devotees who stood to protect the temple customs".More news: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere Month Revealed in New Teaser
Over a dozen women under 50 had been prevented from reaching the temple. If the review pleas are dismissed, we will take up the writ petitions. It would take a call after reading today's verdict, the government has said.
Activist Rahul Eshwar said peaceful protests would continue and the temple would be guarded. The question remains whether Justice Khanwilkar, with no strong views of his own on the matter, is likely to be persuaded to change his views during the open hearing on January 22. "Hope at least now the government will respect devotees' sentiments", he said.More news: Claim against Flipkart’s Binny Bansal was of sexual assault