Live: Travancore Devaswom Board says won't seek review of Sabarimala order; SC reserves judgement
Sabarimala temple live updates: A five-judge constitution bench of the top court will hear the petitions.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday started hearing a batch of pleas seeking review of its judgement allowing women of all ages to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple complex.
A five-judge constitution bench comprising of Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra is hearing the petition.
There are 64 cases being heard in total, out of which some are review petitions and some transfer petitions.
The apex court in its order of September 28 2018 set aside a Kerala temple rule which disallowed women in the reproductive age groups between 10 and 50 years. The issue has also led to a political turmoil with the state's Left government in the state backing the ruling and the BJP opposing it. Several women have since visited the temple which houses a bachelor deity.
On September 28 2018, a five-judge constitution bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.
On November 13 2018, the apex court had agreed to hear in open court in January this year the pleas seeking review of its verdict, but had refused to stay the judgement. However, on January 22, the top court had said it may not start hearing the pleas, seeking review of Sabarimala verdict till January 30 as one of the judges of the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, was on medical leave.
Here are the live updates:
Rakesh Dwivedi, counsel of Travancore Devaswom Board: The board has taken a conscious decision to support&respect the judgement of SC&implement it. The board thinks that is a right judgement in right direction & it grants equality to women in the matters of worship.
Supreme Court reserves the judgement on a batch of review petitions over the entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala temple.
Bench reassembles. Counsel Rakesh Dwivedi begins arguments for Travancore Devaswom Board. "Any practice which denies an equal right to practice or propogate the religion falls foul of Art. 25. TDB has taken a decision to respect the judgment and not seek review. Various questions of law addressed by the 2018 judgment and how each judge addressed them. We have to transform society and include women in all walks of life. We should not point out biological attributes to exclude women from any walk of life. "Equality" runs through the Constitution," says Rakesh Dwivedi. Rakesh Dwivedi concludes arguments for Travancore Devaswom Board.
Kerala government tells SC that challenge on ground of untouchability will not affect the verdict. It also said the case cannot be reopened by way of review petitions. "Sabarimala is a public law issue, has to pass test of constitutional validity," Kerala govt to SC.
Counsel Vijay Hansaria now making submissions for State of Kerala in SLP against Kerala HC order. Bench rises for lunch. Hearing to continue at 2 pm.
"If Your Lordships go into the essential practice of temple, each temple will have unique essential practice and hence each temple will be denomination temple. This would mean the complete destruction of essential practice test. So essential practice of individual temple will not amount to the essential religious practice of religion for the purpose of Constitutional test. It is not a private issue but a public law issue unless they argue that women between age 10 to 50 are not a class of Hindus. Non-discrimination and non-exclusion are two values found throughout our Constitution," concluded Jaideep Gupta.
Senior Counsel Jaideep Gupta for State of Kerala submits, "We are opposing review since no grounds have been made out for review. A challenge on the ground that Articles 15 and 17 have not been considered will not hold ground. The review petitioners have analysed judgment in detail. That cannot be done in review. Non consideration of arguments cannot be ground for review. Not necessary to review the judgment simply because Article 17 has not been considered by all the judges on the Bench. On essential practice there is tendency to confuse between essential practice of religion and essential practice of a temple. In this case, it is not an essential religious practice of the religion," said Jaideep Gupta.
Review petitioners conclude. "We will give you 90 minutes", CJI Ranjan Gogoi tells respondents.
Now Sai Deepak J is making submissions. "There is no reference to Section 4 of the Act. The current practice is not present in Rule 3(b). It flows from the two notifications. When it comes to essential religious practice, Court should accept the word of the community, unless the Court finds that the community has made a false submission to that effect," submits Sai Deepak.
"There are several other places of worship across India with gender-based restrictions which will be affected by the 2018 judgment. None of them was heard," submits Gopal Sankaranarayanan.
Mohan Parasaran commences submissions. "Merely because Ayyappas are from different religions is no ground to deny them denomination status," says Parasaran.
R Venkataramani commences submissions. "This is a Sampradaya, either you believe in it or dont. There are two conflicting judgment of Constitution Bench of SC. One is Puttaswamy judgment on Aadhaar which says individual rights subjective to community interest. Second is Sabarimala judgment which props up individual rights, counsel for petitioners. How can court split faith into permissible faith and impermissible faith, faith is faith, counsel for petitioner," says Venkataramani.
Shekhar Naphade commences his arguments. Naphade says, "This is not a matter within the public law domain. It is an internal affair of a particular community. This is a matter of faith. Unless there is a criminal law which prohibits a particular religious practice like say Sati, courts cannot interfere. Who is to decide what is an essential religious practice, it should be the members of that particular community. We all saw on TV how social peace in Kerala was disturbed due to the judgment."
Abhishek Singhvi says, "The exclusion in this case is based on inherent physiological characteristics which has nexus with the nature of the deity, submits. The above argument of intrinsic character of naishtika bhramachari of the deity has not been dealt with by the 2018 judgment and that is my ground for review. The Gods in Hinduism are worshipped in various forms and manifestations and this particular God/ deity is worshipped in this manner. Article 17 has to be read as a caste based or religion based exclusion. In this case there is no exclusion of women or men or any caste of men or women. My third submission is regarding Constitutional morality. My argument is where rights under Article 25 are under consideration, Constitutional morality has to be applied keeping in mind the occupied field facet."
After K Parasaran concludes, V Giri commences his arguments. He says, "Any person who asserts right under Article 25(2)(b) to worship has to do it in consonance with the nature of deity." Relying on Mahendran judgment, he says, "In the absence of any material which shows that it is an exclusionary practice, the 2018 verdict should be reconsidered."
Senior advocate K Prasaran, appearing for Nair Service Society, opens arguments before five-judge bench. He seeks setting aside of verdict that allowed women of all ages entry into Sabarimala temple.
Supreme Court commences hearing on pleas seeking review of verdict that had allowed women of all age groups entry into Sabarimala temple.