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Sabarimala: SC to hear arguments on reference plea

Noting that “an issue like this has arisen never before”, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to hear arguments for referring to a Constitution Bench a plea challenging the restriction on women aged between 10 and 50 years to enter the famed Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

A three-judge Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, will hear arguments by various senior lawyers on questions ranging from whether the right to equality — a fundamental right more affirmed for women under the Constitution — under Article 14 can be agitated to “interfere” with the Hindu tradition to whether a religious denomination centred around the temple had the fundamental right to restrict women from entering it.

Lawyers even asked the Supreme Court to consider the wishes of the deity itself, saying the apex court has the duty under the principle of parens patriae to protect the “desire and wishes” of the presiding deity, a nastik brahmachari.

Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the temple authorities, beseeched the Supreme Court to tread cautiously, as their decision in this case would create ripples in the age-old practice and restrictions of other religions like Islam and Christianity.

Lawyers even asked the Supreme Court to consider the wishes of the deity itself, saying the apex court has the duty under the principle of parens patriae to protect the “desire and wishes” of the presiding deity, a nastik brahmachari.

Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the temple authorities, beseeched the Supreme Court to tread cautiously, as their decision in this case would create ripples in the age-old practice and restrictions of other religions like Islam and Christianity.

“We are aware of that... we will pass an order detailing why we are compelled to refer [to a Constitution Bench]... Here is an issue which has never arisen before,” Justice Misra, flanked by Justices C. Nagappan and R. Banumathi, responded to Mr. Venugopal’s word of caution.

“At no stage has any matter affected a large section of humanity like this one. It requires a substantial interpretation of rights,” Mr. Venugopal stressed.

Turning to the Kerala government’s counsel and senior advocate V. Giri, Justice Misra asked if the new LDF government is again in the mood to shift stands on allowing women into the temple.

“You had changed your initial affidavit... have you changed your stand now again... is there going to be any consistency on your part?” Justice Misra asked.

The Bench was referring to how on February 4, 2016, the previous Congress-led government had withdrawn a nine-year-old affidavit filed on November 13, 2007 by the then Left-ruled government which said “it was not fair to deny a section of women from entering Sabarimala and make worship.”





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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 2:39:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Sabarimala-SC-to-hear-arguments-on-reference-plea/article14484943.ece

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