SC says Sabarimala tradition age-old, no order on women’s plea

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday declined to pass an order on a plea by two women — Bindu and Fathima — to allow them entry into the Sabarimala temple, but Bindu said she is not seeing it in a negative way.

“Even though the apex court has not allowed us entry, they have said that the larger Constitution bench will be set up and will look into it. I do not see it in a negative way. Now we will wait,” said Bindu to the media in Kerala.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices Surya Kant and B.R. Gavai said: “We will endeavour to constitute a seven-judge bench at the earliest, and these matters would be taken up after the decision of this bench.

“Every woman who wants to go, must go. But, the situation in the country becomes explosive, we don’t want any violence. There is a judgement, but it is not the last word on the issue”, said the Chief Justice.

In September 2018, the apex court in a verdict allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple. In November 2019, a five-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to a larger bench to examine the matter and also clubbed the issues on the entry of women in the religious places of other religions.

“The issue there is a judgement, there is equally no doubt issue for larger bench to look into it. Situation today has been there for thousands of years, but no order today”, said the Chief Justice.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing Bindu, contended before the court: “We are all here to avoid violence, this country based on the foundation of non-violence, we do not encourage violence.

“My client is a Dalit and Hindu woman, and she had entered the temple, as she is a believer”, said Jaising citing the November 2018 judgement, which has not been stayed yet. The Chief Justice replied: “The judgement is not the final word.”

The Chief Justice said that the judgement is in the petitioner’s favour and this is not a situation where somebody’s private rights are involved and also nobody’s right to life taken away either.

“It is very emotive issue, let the matter go to the larger bench”, said the Chief Justice reiterating that the court is exercising its discretion to not pass the order on Friday in the petitioner’s favour.

“We are telling this after considering the impact of the case”, said the Chief Justice. “We are passing no order, if they (temple authorities) happily welcome you to the temple, then we have no difficulty”, he added.

The Chief Justice said that he will endeavour to constitute the larger bench at the earliest and also list the review petition before this bench.

The court observed that Bindu will continue to get security until further orders.