Four months after it allowed women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple, the court will today begin hearing review petitions challenging its September verdict. A batch of over 60 petitions will be heard by a five-judge constitution bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The Sabarimala case was earlier scheduled for January 22, but had to be postponed as Justice Indu Malhotra, one of the judges on the panel, was on medical leave. Justice Malhotra, the only woman judge on the bench, had dissented with the verdict in September, saying courts must not interfere with issues concerning “deep religious sentiments”.
The verdict had set off massive street protests in Kerala. The annual pilgrimage season saw violent protests as devotees of Lord Ayyappa, the celibate god, tried to stop women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine.
One of the two women who eventually managed to enter the temple in January was even attacked allegedly by her mother-in-law.
The issue has also triggered a political slugfest between Kerala’s CPM and the opposition parties, including the BJP and the Congress.