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Supreme Court Judge Who Made a U-turn on His Views on Women's Entry to Sabarimala Temple

File photo of Supreme Court.

File photo of Supreme Court.

In the 2018 judgment, Justice Khanwilkar had endorsed the views of the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra in holding that female worshippers of the age group of 10 to 50 years must also be allowed in the Kerala’s temple.

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Utkarsh Anand

New Delhi: Out of the five judges on the Sabarimala bench, Justice AM Khanwilkar happens to be the only one who has gone back on his views.

In the 2018 judgment, Justice Khanwilkar had endorsed the views of the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra in holding that female worshippers of the age group of 10 to 50 years must also be allowed in the Kerala’s temple.

The judge had also agreed with the majority view that the devotees of Lord Ayyappa are exclusively Hindus and do not constitute a separate religious denomination as he was a part of the 4:1 majority judgment.

Justice Dipak Misra was replaced by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on this bench after the former had retired, while the other four members of the bench remained the same – Justice Rohinton F Nariman, Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

In deciding the clutch of review petitions, while Justice Gogoi opined that the issues required an extensive scrutiny by a seven-judge bench, his views found opposition in Justices Nariman and Chandrachud who remained convinced that the exclusionary practice in Sabrimala was constitutionally immoral and could not be allowed.

Justice Indu Malhotra also retained her views in the review petitions as the majority judgment held that courts need to be careful and circumspect in interfering with the matters of religion and religious practices.

But Justice Khanwilkar turned out to be the only judge who went back on his initial views and now supported Justices Gogoi and Indu Malhotra in calling upon a larger bench to deal with the issues of religious matters and scope of judicial interference.


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