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‘2018 judgement not the last word on Sabarimala’: SC while hearing Bindhu Ammini’s plea

Chief Justice SA Bobde made the remark while hearing the plea of Bindhu Ammini, who entered Sabarimala earlier in January, seeking police protection to enter the temple.
The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that its 2018 verdict lifting the ban on women between the ages 10 and 50 from entering Sabarimala temple in Kerala was not the ‘last word’ on the issue and the larger bench will now hear the case further. 
Chief Justice SA Bobde made the remark while hearing the plea of Bindhu Ammini, who entered Sabarimala temple in January, seeking police protection to enter the temple this season. The Supreme Court bench comprising of CJI Bobde and Justice Surya Kant, agreed to hear Bindhu’s plea next week.
Bindhu had moved the apex court days after she was attacked by a member of ‘Hindu HelpLine’ while accompanying ‘Right to Pray’ activist Trupti Desai who had come to Kerala to visit the Sabarimala temple. 
Appearing for Bindhu, senior counsel Indira Jaising told the court that there was no stay on Supreme Court’s 2018 judgement and the Kerala government’s refusal to provide security to the women attempting the Sabarimala trek amounts to “gross contempt” of the orders of the court. This is when the bench remarked, “There is (an order) for a much larger bench to decide the matter. There is no final word as yet.”
A five-judge Constitution bench, on November 14, kept pending the Sabarimala review petitions and transferred the larger issue of essential religious practices to a seven-judge Supreme Court bench. 
The Supreme Court had said the entry of women into places of worship is not limited to this temple, but many similar issues come into play as well, like the entry of Muslim women into mosques, the entry of Parsi women who married non-Parsis into the tower of silence, female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community, and others. The court said that these too need to be referred to a higher bench. However, the court did not make any comment on its 2018 judgement, leading to confusion over whether it still stands. 
In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench had, by a majority 4:1 verdict, allowed girls and women of all ages to visit the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, saying discrimination on physiological grounds was violative of the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution such as the right to equality.
A day before the Sabarimala season commenced, the Kerala government had announced that it will not provide police protection to any women between the ages of 10 and 50 who wished to enter the temple and those seeking police protection must approach court and get an order for the same. 
In addition to Bindhu, Rehana Fathima, who had last year attempted the Sabarimala climb as well, has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking police protection to go to Sabarimala. The court will hear both pleas next week.
Also read:
Sabarimala issue: The 7 questions that Supreme Court wants a larger bench to address
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