The Supreme Court bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will pronounce its verdict on the review petitions challenging the entry of women into Sabarimala temple at 10:30 am on Thursday. In September last year, the Supreme Court had allowed entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women. While Justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud concurred with the CJI and Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting verdict.
The Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra. It was Justice Malhotra, the lone woman judge in the bench, that had passed a dissenting judgment in 2018 saying issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain a secular atmosphere in the country.
The judgment had sparked a massive protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa – a celibate - in several parts of Kerala with several women of all ages participating in it. According to them, the judgment was against culture and tradition. They also demanded that the agama (scriptures) traditions be followed in the shrine of Ayyappa. Meanwhile, the Kerala Government – who has been facing widespread criticism over errors in the list of women who prayed at the Sabarimala Temple – has decided to re-prepare the list.