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Political parties in Kerala on Thursday, 14 November, welcomed the Supreme Court decision to refer its 28 September 2018 order allowing women of all ages into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala to a larger bench.
WHAT THE SUPREME COURT SAID
The Supreme Court on Thursday, 14 November, said restrictions on women in religious places were not limited to Sabarimala alone and have been prevalent in other religions as well, as it referred all review pleas to a larger seven-judge bench.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, reading the verdict on behalf of himself and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, said the larger bench will decide all such religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women in mosques and practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.
WHAT POLITICIANS SAID
Welcoming the verdict, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “The issues involved have implications for the practice of all faiths.”
Senior BJP leader BL Santhosh said the Supreme Court verdict is in the direction of protecting rights of devotees and upholding faith.
Hailing the verdict, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked the Left-led state government "not to create issues" by providing security and taking women in the banned age group to offer worship at the Ayyappa temple.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the new decision will help in protecting the faith of devotees. He also hoped the pilgrimage season will be peaceful.
Senior BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan said the review petitions being referred to a seven-judge bench points to the fact that there was some apparent error in the earlier verdict.
"The government must show restraint and wait for the larger bench's verdict. In case women pilgrims in the banned age group try to offer worship, government must prevent them from doing so," Rajashekharan said.
WHAT ACTIVISTS, PETITIONERS SAID
Pandalam Royal family member Sasikumar Varma, one of the petitioners, said he was happy with the apex court's decision to review the 28 September verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
“The court understood the feelings of the devotees and transferred the petitions to be reviewed by a seven-judge bench. This means there was some error in the earlier judgment. We feel relieved and happy that the SC has decided to review its earlier verdict. This is Lord Ayyappa’s blessing.”Pandalam Royal family member Sasikumar Varma
Welcoming the verdict, Kandararu Rajeevaru, Head Priest of the Sabarimala temple, said he respects the SC decision to refer last September’s verdict to a 7-judge bench. "This gives us hope. This will strengthen the beliefs of devotees," he said.
Social activist Rahul Easwaran described it as "pro faith judgment". Nobody should interfere in matters of faith, he added.
Social activist Trupti Desai, who has been at the forefront of advocating the rights of women of all age groups to enter Sabarimala, said she is hopeful that the seven-judge bench will decide on the basis of constitutional rights.
Kerala had been rocked by violent protests after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict of 28 September last year allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.
The Sabarimala temple will be open from 16 November and the annual two-month-long pilgrim season will begin from 17 November.