Sabarimala issue was referred to a larger bench on November 14. (File)
The Supreme Court Friday declined to pass any order on prayer by women activists seeking protection to visit Sabarimala temple. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked them to wait till the review petitions are decided.
The apex court referred the matter as emotive and said the "balance of convenience" required that no orders are passed in the matter today as the issue had already been referred to a seven-judge bench.
Arguing for protection and entry of women into the shrine, petitioners Rehana Fathima's counsel Senior Advocate Indira Jaising said, "last year’s SC judgement lifting age restrictions on the entry of women has not stayed yet and that two judges had dissented on referring it to a larger bench".
Responding to the argument, the CJI said, "One judge’s judgment is not more weighty than that of another. We are using our discretion not to pass an order."
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said though there was no stay on the September 28, 2018, judgment allowing entry of women of all ages into the shrine, "but it is equally true that it is not final".
The SC, in its November 14 decision, had by a 3:2 majority held that the Sabarimala judgment may impinge on the affairs of other religions too and required a more detailed examination. It decided to keep the review petitions pending till a larger bench took a call.
Those in favour of opening the shrine to women of all age groups had referred to the absence of a stay order in the November 14 judgment and said that it meant that the 2018 judgment was still in force and should be implemented.
Those defending the temple customs, however, said the very fact that the SC had decided to examine the matter in detail before taking a final view on the review petitions meant that the court had doubts about the validity of the 2018 judgment and it would be improper to enforce it.