A nine-judge bench on Monday commenced the hearing on issues related to discrimination against women in various religions and at religious places, including Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple. The bench was constituted to address seven larger questions relating to religious practices in India.
The nine-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, made it clear that it will not be hearing the review petitions filed in the Sabarimala case but only the seven questions that were referred to the larger bench. The other judges on the bench are Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, MM Shantanagoudar, SA Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant. The bench showed an inclination to list all petitions, including those on the entry of Muslim women into mosques, female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and the entry of Parsi women who have married non-Parsis into fire temples.
The Supreme Court ordered that a meeting must be convened with the Secretary-General of the SC where all the lawyers appearing for various parties will finalise the issues to be considered by the nine-judge bench. The lawyers are expected to hold a conference on January 17 to finalise the issues. The lawyers will decide whether any issues are to be re-framed, modified or added, the time that should be allotted to each counsel for arguments, and the specific points that are to be addressed by each lawyer, reports Bar and Bench.
The counsels have been given three weeks to submit to the court the issues they decide upon. The case will be further heard after three weeks.
A five-judge bench had on November 14 last year asked a larger bench to re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple and mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.