SC agrees to hear Sabarimala review petitions on January 22

CM sees no reason to change stand on Sabarimala still would seek legal opinion

The writ petition and review petitions were filed after the September 28 judgment of the Supreme Court, which held that women, irrespective of their age, have the right to enter the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala.

In Kerala, the court's decision to revisit the verdict was greeted with relief. Glued to their television sets the whole day, devotees of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity in Sabarimala, celebrated the ruling by staging victory rallies and distributing candies. However, on Tuesday morning, the judges deferred the hearings, saying that they would be heard subject to the results of the review petitions. No lawyers are present during these proceedings.

The top court had on October 9 declined an urgent hearing on the review plea filed by an association which had contended that the five-judge Constitution bench's verdict lifting the ban was "absolutely untenable and irrational". "We welcome the apex court's decision to hear the review petition in open court".

The five judges, who met at the CJI's chamber, stated in their order that the review petitions, along with all pending applications, would be heard in open court "before the appropriate bench" on January 22, 2019. "The State of Kerala & Ors", read the order.

Earlier in the day, the top court had made it clear that fresh pleas related to the Sabarimala Temple will be heard only after it decides the earlier petitions seeking review of the judgment allowing entry of women of all age groups into the shrine in Kerala.

The government argued that it was a historically accepted fact that Sabarimala is a secular temple, where entry of devotees is not restricted on the ground of any caste or religion.

Besides the Association, several other petitions including one by Nair Service Society (NSS), have been filed against the verdict. The composition of the bench, which heard the review petitions today, therefore, did not cause any surprise.

The BJP functionary, in his plea, asserted that the Supreme Court's verdict and rules of the Kerala Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 are being violated by allowing the entry of non-Hindus and non-idol worshippers into the "Sannidhanam" (temple complex).

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