Sabarimala Case review petition: SC to begin day-to-day hearing from February 17
The nine-judge bench comprises CJI SA Bobde and Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Banumathi, Surya Kant, S A Nazeer, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
The Supreme Court has proposed to begin day-to-day hearing from February 17 on cases relating to discrimination against women at religious places including Kerala's Sabarimala Temple. The apex court stated that its nine-judge bench will deal with the extent of judicial review concerning religious practices.
The court will also address the question of the power of a person, who does not belong to a particular religion or sect, to question the religious beliefs of that religion by filling a PIL. The apex bench has framed seven questions, which will be taken up for discussion by the nine-judge Constitutional bench. The questions have been framed on issues relating to freedom of religion under the Constitution and faith. the questions will also address the interplay between religious freedom and freedom of beliefs of religious denominations.
This follows a ruling by the Supreme Court on February 10, 2020, in which the court stated that its five-judge bench can refer legal questions to a larger bench while exercising its power under review jurisdiction. The ruling was delivered by a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde.
The bench further asked the lawyers representing various parties to give prior information regarding who they are representing and accordingly, the bench would allot them time to put forward their arguments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta would be opening the arguments on behalf of the centre, followed by senior advocate K Parasaran.
Nine-judge constitution bench
The special bench comprises CJI SA Bobde and Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Banumathi, Surya Kant, S A Nazeer, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
The apex court had announced on January 30, 2020 that its nine-judge constitution bench will frame issues regarding discrimination against women at different religious places including the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. The bench will frame the issues while considering all cases of gender inequality at religious places and the issues will then be taken up for deliberation.
The Supreme Court on February 6, 2020 reserved its order on the issue of whether it can, while exercising its review jurisdiction, refer the questions of law to a larger bench.
The nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde stated that it will pronounce its order on February 10. The apex court was hearing cases related to discrimination against women at different religious places of worship including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, which bars the entry of women in menstruating age.
While Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the Supreme Court had the right to refer questions of law to a larger bench, “as custodian of fundamental rights", Senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the submission and stated that only the President has the right to ask questions of national importance, not the court.