Kerala BJP president Sreedharan Pillai has called the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the merits of the 49 review petitions in an open court a victory for the protesters. Earlier in the day, the apex court had said it will begin hearing writ petitions only after orders on the review pleas.
Meanwhile, BJP state President, P S Sreedharan Pillai, described the apex court decision as a "good step". "We accept the spirit of today's Supreme Court decision", he said. The state had witnessed frenzied protests from devotees against the top court's verdict, permitting women of all ages to pray at the shrine. Women in the 10-50 age group had been barred for centuries from visiting and offering prayers as the deity is considered a "Naishtika Brahmachari" (eternal celibate).
"The blessings of Lord Ayyappa and prayers of lots of devotees are behind this decision to hear the matter in the open court", a beaming Tantri told reporters. He said the shrine had never faced such troubled times, as first the floods caused immense damage to infrastructure in an around the temple complex and then came the apex court verdict of September 28, permitting women of all ages to offer prayers, at the shrine. "This is a big victory. We believe things will become normal. This is Ayyappa's victory", he said, adding everything would turn positive.
The Sabarimala temple head priest has welcomed the Supreme court's decision to hear review petitions against its judgement on the women's entry issue, in an open court on January 22, saying 'it is a big victory, this is Ayappa's victory. Reacting to the Constitution bench's decision to hear a batch of 50 petitions in the open court, Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru said today's outcome was due to the blessings of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the hill shrine.
"It is a judgment welcomed by hypocrites who were aspiring for media headlines. On the merits of the case, as well, the said judgment is absolutely untenable and irrational, if not perverse." Besides the association, several other petitions, including one by the Nair Service Society (NSS), have been filed against the apex court verdict. The NSS had said in the plea that as the deity is a 'Naistika Brahmachari', females below the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him and there is no practice of excluding worship by females.
The bench stated this while hearing the three fresh petitions filed by G Vijaya Kumar, S Jaya Rajkumar and Shailaja Vijayan challenging its September 28 verdict. On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 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.
There are around 48 petitions seeking review of the judgment. 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.
Supreme Court has agreed to hear review pleas in Sabarimala case. Earlier, a review plea by the Nair Service Society (NSS), one of the petitioners, had said "without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance has the effect of holding that the character of the deity can be altered based on individual faith and belief, in violation of the tenets of a particular religion and or religious sect".
Earlier in the day, the Special Commissioner’s report in Kerala high court stated that several persons had assembled at Sabarimala on November 5 to prevent entry of women. A woman devotee, who was aged above 50 years, was subjected to harassment and intimidation when she attempted to visit temple. She could visit temple only with police assistance. The report also stated that persons happened to ascend the holy 18 steps without the customary “irumudi kettu” in the midst of commotion, leading to breach of temple customs. “Irumudi Ketti” is a travel pouch containing pooja articles and a person can ascend the holy steps only by carrying it on head. The Report recommended that political parties and religious outfits should be directed to withdraw from staging protests in Sabarimala. The Report also highlighted the grievances of devotees regarding lack of adequate facilities and police arrangements.
The centuries old restrictions on entry of women devotees between the 10-50 age group worshipping in the shrine had been lifted by the Supreme Court on September 28. With the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front government making it clear that it was constitutionally bound to implement the verdict, devotees and right wing outfits had launched massive protests and prayer marches against entry of young women. Over 3,700 people had been arrested for violence during Sabarimala protests across the state after the apex court ruling.
Sabarimala: Hearing Begins in SC | Supreme Court has begun hearing 49 review petitions in Sabarimala case. The batch of petitions is seeking review of the judgment has been taken up for consideration in-chamber by a bench of Chief Justice Gogoi and justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
Sabarimala: RECAP of What Happened in Kerala HC Today | The Kerala high court has taken suo moto case on violence which took place at Sabarimala on November 5, when the temple opened for ‘Chithira Aatta Vishesham’. The Special Bench for Devaswom matters comprising Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar took cognizance on the basis of the report filed by Special Commissioner M Manoj District Judge.
Sabarimala: What is an in-chamber Hearing? | The Sabarimala review petitions will be heard in chambers of the CJI and there will not be an open court hearing. The apex court usually hears review petitions inside a chamber where no advocates are present. The hearing takes place inside judges' chamber to resolve procedural issues when court is not in session.
CLICK TO READ | 'Lord Ayyappa Wasn't Anti-Women': Despite Threats, Kollam Woman Begins Sabarimala Journey
The trouble began on Tuesday evening when Karunagappally native Archana K Rajan, who goes by the name of Soorya Devarchana on Facebook, revealed her wish to visit Lord Ayyappa's temple in Sabarimala.
Sabarimala: 'No Devotee, Media Person Should be Blocked from Visiting Temple' | The Kerala High Court had earlier in November said that devotees and media personnel should not be blocked from visiting the Sabarimala temple and the government should not interfere in the day-to-day activities of the shrine. The court’s remarks came on the day when the Lord Ayyappa shrine was scheduled to re-open for a special ‘puja’. Frenzied protests had rocked the temple last month and around a dozen women in the age group of 10-50 were prevented from reaching the shrine as protesting devotees sought to “protect” their customs and beliefs.The situation led to a pitched battle between police and the agitators as thousands took to the streets against the decision of the LDF government to implement the court orders. Taking note of the violent protests, the court said a department-level inquiry must be ordered to check the role of policemen who had damaged devotees’ vehicles.
CLICK TO READ | Mob Attacks News18 Woman Journalist, Others Covering Sabarimala Protests as Cops Look On
Two reporters - one from The News Minute and one from the Republic TV - were also attacked by the anti-women protesters.
The Kerala High Court, meanwhile, on Tuesday took suo moto cognisance of the violence at Sabarimala Temple after the Supreme Court opened the gates of the shrine to women of all age groups. It has also sought an explanation from the Travancore Devaswom Board.
The SC verdict had led to violent protests at the base camps outside the hill shrine as devotees and several Hindu outfits blocked women from entering the temple when it opened for six days in October.
As the hearings began, a lawyer sought to file a fresh affidavit by a ‘tantri’, asking for open court hearing. Reacting to the same, the CJI said: “You are being unfair to us. Beyond that, we don't want to say anything.”
At least 12 women in the 10-50 age group had made a failed attempt to trek the hills and had to return following the protests. Even women over the age of 50 were stopped at Sabarimala and were only allowed to pass through after showing proof of their age.
The BJP and the Congress both blamed the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala for implementing the verdict in a “hurry” and are taking out protest rallies through the state to protect the “traditions and customs” of the temple. However, the Left government has reiterated that the administration is committed to implementing the court’s September 28 order, but blamed political rivals for politicising the issue.
A review plea by the Nair Service Society (NSS), one of the petitioners, said "without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance has the effect of holding that the character of the deity can be altered based on individual faith and belief, in violation of the tenets of a particular religion and or religious sect". The petitioners have also alleged that the verdict has "legal errors" and the assumption of the temple practice being based on notions of menstrual impurity is "factually erroneous".
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