The Supreme Court’s decision to refer the Sabarimala issue to a larger bench on Thursday was welcomed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fount of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The RSS had opposed the apex court’s ruling last year which allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.
The seven-member bench will re-examine the Sabarimala issue as well as those related to the entry of women into mosques, and the denial of access to fire temples for Parsi women who marry outside the community. It will also deliberate the practice of female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohras, ruled the Court.
“We were expecting relief in today’s judgment; but so far, so good. There has been some relief for the devotees and the court has seen the issue from the correct perspective by noting the rights of Parsi women as well,” J Nandakumar, a senior functionary of the RSS said.
Traditionalists in Kerala violently opposed the September 28, 2018 judgment that allowed even girls and women aged between 10 and 50 years to enter the shrine. They believe that the deity is celibate and that the entry of female worshippers of reproductive age amounts to sacrilege.
“Matters related to traditions and customs are issues of faith and belief,” RSS spokesperson Arun Kumar said. “Restriction of women belonging to a particular age group to the Sabarimala shrine has nothing to with gender inequality or discrimination, and that is strictly based on the speciality of the deity.”
The RSS opposed the Supreme Court’s verdict last year on the grounds that it “violates the customs and traditions of the temple” and are in contravention of the “deity’s own rules.”
The Supreme Court said in its ruling that courts should tread cautiously on matters of religious beliefs.
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