New Delhi: The National Ayyappa Devotees Organization moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking a review of the court’s order allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
The plea filed by its president Shylaja Vijayan sought a review of the verdict, claiming it had shocked “millions" of Ayyappa devotees.
The Nair Service Society and Chetna Conscience of Women also filed review petitions during the course of the day.
The plea by the National Ayyappa Devotees Organization sought the review on the grounds that the ruling was unconstitutional, void and in violation of the principles of natural justice. The judgment is vitiated by “errors apparent on the face of record", the petition stated.
It was also claimed that the judgment was in violation of express constitutional provisions guaranteeing Ayyappa devotees’ liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship under Section 25 of the Constitution.
On 28 September, a Supreme Court bench headed by former chief justice Dipak Misra in a 4:1 majority granted women of all ages the right to enter Sabarimala temple, reversing the Kerala shrine’s tradition of barring girls and women of menstruating age.
Recognizing that banning women from entering the temple was derogatory to them, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar on behalf of himself and Misra said: “Morality cannot be viewed with a narrow lens so as to confine the sphere of definition of morality to what an individual, a section or religious sect may perceive the term to mean."
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, in his separate but concurring judgment, said religion could not become a cover to exclude and deny the basic right to find fulfilment in worship to women. He added that physiological factors associated with women could not provide a rationale to deny them the right to worship.
Justice Indu Malhotra, in the sole dissenting opinion, held that it was not for courts to determine if these practices should be struck down.
The court had ruled on a public interest litigation filed in 2006 by non-profit body Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry for women and girls to the shrine.
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, justified the restriction saying the ban had “historical origin" as the presence of women and girls of menstruating age was antithetical to the naishtika brahmachari (celibate) nature of the deity. Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government was in support of allowing the entry of girls and women.