Millennium Post

Sabarimala: SC says it will frame questions on matter

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will frame legal questions to be adjudicated by a nine-judge bench on religious discrimination against women at various religious places, the larger concerns which have arisen during the Sabarimala temple case.

The nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that it will inform the parties about the time frame and the questions framed in the matter on February 6.

The bench, also comprising justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M MShantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said it will also deal with the issue whether a reference order can be made in review jurisdiction for a hearing by a larger bench.

During the hearing, senior advocates Fali S Nariman, KapilSibal, Shyam Divan and Rakesh Dwivedi said in review jurisdiction, there cannot be any reference order on issues to be heard by a larger bench.

The senior lawyers contended that in review jurisdiction, the scope is very limited and the court can only see whether the judgement under review has any error apparent or not.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior advocates K Parasaran and Ranjit Kumar, however, opposed the arguments and said the top court while exercising the review jurisdiction can refer a larger issue, which had arisen during the adjudication of the dispute, to a larger bench.

The bench said it will deal with all the issues and frame the questions which needs to be adjudicated by the nine-judge bench.

The bench made clear that it was not discussing the issue of entry of women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

It has been hearing several senior lawyers on the issue of framing of larger legal questions to be deliberated upon by it relating to discrimination against women in various religions.

"The Sabarimala review case is not before us. We are not deciding Sabarimala. We are deciding the larger questions," the bench said when senior advocates Nariman, Sibal, Divan and Dwivedi opposed the hearing on the so-called larger issue relating to discrimination against women in various religions.

A five-judge bench, by a majority of 3:2 on November 14 last year, had referred to a larger bench the issue of discrimination against women in religions such as denial of entry of Muslim women into mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community and denial of right to Parsi women who have married outside their religion. At the outset, Nariman said the question whether women of all age groups can be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple has been already decided by the Supreme Court in 2018 and the subsequent review has also been dealt with and hence, this cannot be adjudicated afresh.

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