The Supreme Court will on Thursday pronounce verdict on a bunch of petitions seeking review of its order allowing entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
A five-judge bench of the court, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, had in Feburary this reserved its verdict on pleas challenging its September 28, 2018 ruling on Sabarimala. In a majority verdict of 4:1, the court had held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
The court will deliver its judgment on as many as 65 petitions. Other than the CJI, the other members of the bench are justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The SC’s judgment allowing women of reproductive age to enter the hill shrine of Sabarimala had to led massive protests in Kerala It had triggered a political slugfest between Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Kerala administration booked around 50,000 protestors after large-scale violence across the state. The agitation also hit the revenues of the temple and affected the footfall of pilgrims.
Traditionalists have argued that the idol in Sabarimala, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate so there are some restrictions on women of child-bearing age entering the hill shrine.
“We are optimistic. Lakhs of devotees are praying day in and out and their belief will be protected,” said Rahul Iswar, an activist who opposed the dilution of the age-old customs of the temple. He was arrested twice last year during protests.
There were reports of rush in many Ayyappa temples where people made special offerings for a “favourable outcome”.
On Tuesday, Kerala minister Kadakampally Surendran had asked BJP to respect the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala just like it welcomed the Ayodhya judgment.
BJP’s lone MLA in Kerala, O Rajagopal had sought reply from the Devaswom Minister on the arrangements made at the hilltop shrine ahead of the annual pilgrimage season.