SC reserves verdict on Sabarimala

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New Delhi, Feb 6: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved verdict on a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 28, 2018 judgment 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.

Travancore Devaswom Board’s former president Prayar Gopalakrishnan accused the board of acting at the behest of political parties. “When I was TDB president, there was no politics in official work. But present Devaswom Board is acting as per the instruction of political parties or their govt. Devaswom Board has repeated their U-turn style,” Gopalakrishnan  said.

Rakesh Dwivedi, counsel of Travancore Devaswom Board has termed the board’s stand on women’s entry in Sabaraimala as a ‘conscious decision to support &respect the judgment of SC and implement  it. The board thinks that is a right judgment in right direction & it grants equality to women in the matters of worship.

As the Supreme Court began hearing pleas on Sabarimala issue, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for former Travancore Devaswom Board chairman, said that common principles of rationality and irrationality can’t apply to religious practices. “Religion can’t be looked at like a science museum. We can’t apply constitutional morality in matters of religion as a blanket rule,” he added.

“In Hinduism gods are worshipped in various forms and manifestations. In Sabarimala, the deity is worshipped in this particular manner. Here, the exclusion is not based on caste, but purely based on nature of the deity. So, Article 17 (untouchability) has no application,” says Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“Punishment shouldn’t come for lawyers usually. Contempt is like a brahmashtra. It should be used sparingly so that it doesn’t lose its value. And we are also mindful how reckless comments deprive dignity of others without a due process of law,” says Justice Arun Mishra.

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