Coming as a major setback for the two women ‘activist’, Rehana Fathima and Bindu Ammini, who have been trying to desecrate the Sabrimala’s age-old tradition barring women in the 10-50 age group to enter the shrine, the Supreme Court on Friday declined to pass an order on their plea to allow them entry into the Sabarimala temple.
It was reported that Bindu Ammini had earlier decided on moving a contempt of court petition in the SC alleging that the Kerala government was not cooperating with women seeking to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala, had instead moved a writ petition in the apex court on December 2.
This writ petition is in the form of public interest litigation (PIL) in which she has sighted the 2018 SC’s Sabarimala judgement and went on to say that this judgement has not been stayed by the top court. She also argued that SC had not referred the issue to a larger bench in its November 14 order.
Reacting to this writ petition, the three-member bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justices Surya Kant and B R Gavai said: “We will endeavour to constitute a seven-judge bench at the earliest, and these matters would be taken up after the decision of this bench.
“Every woman who wants to go must go. But, the situation in the country becomes explosive, we don’t want any violence. There is a judgement, but it is not the last word on the issue”, said the Chief Justice.
In September 2018, the apex court in a verdict allowed the women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple. In November 2019, a five-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to a larger bench by a 3:2 majority to examine the matter and pegged with issues like the entry of women into Mosques and Female Genital Mutilation.
Today, the bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, said the “balance of convenience” required that no orders are passed in the mater today as the issue had already been referred to a seven-judge bench.
“It is a practice that has been going on for thousands of years. The balance of convenience requires that no orders should be passed in your favour now. If the matter, which has been referred, is found in your favour, we will certainly pass orders that you seek” CJI Bobde told Senior Advocates Colin Gonsalves and Indira Jaising, who appeared for petitioners Rehna Fathima and Bindu Ammini respectively.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing Bindu, contended before the court, “We are all here to avoid violence, this country based on the foundation of non-violence, we do not encourage violence.
“My client is a Dalit and Hindu woman, and she had entered the temple, as she is a believer”, said Jaising citing November 2018 judgement, which has not been stayed yet. The Chief Justice replied, “The judgement is not the final word.”
Taking note of the possibility of violence, the top court said the issue was “very emotive” and it did not want the situation to become “explosive” therefore asked the petitioners to be patient.
The two women, Bindu Ammini and Rehna Fathima, had approached the top court after attempts made by them to enter the hill shrine in Kerala had led to physical attacks against them.
Bindu Ammini, who was attacked with chilli spray while waiting near the Ernakulam police commissioner’s office on November 26 seeking police protection to enter the Sabarimala shrine had claimed that there is no stay of the 2018 SC verdict and the Kerala police are bound to give protection to women (between the age of 10 and 50) who wanted to climb the Sabarimala shrine.
The efforts of non-Hindus, activists and atheists to forcibly enter a Hindu religious shrine under the garb of democratic rights and disregarding the faith and traditions of the devotees have been criticised widely by Hindus around the world.
It is notable here that the Sabarimala temple is the seat of Lord Ayyappa who is worshipped there in his ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ form. Hence, only the devotees who had observed a rigorous 41-day penance and are carrying the ‘Irumudi’ are traditionally allowed into the shrine. Women of menstruating age are barred.