New Delhi, Nov 14 : The Travancore Devaswom Board counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Thursday said that the decision of the five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court to refer the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala temple to a larger 7-judge bench for re-examination as a “partial victory”.
Speaking to the media in the Supreme Court complex, Singhvi said: “The court has referred the matter to a larger bench which is a partial success.”
He said that he appeared for the Board and “our contention was that the faith and feeling in religious terms, which is protected constitutionally under Article 25 and 26 unless very derogable constitutional limits to the extent that issue has been referred to a larger bench connected with several other matters”.
“I think there is a partial recognition that the original Sabrimala judgement may need reconsideration,” he said, adding that it is a partial victory for the Board.
Singhvi further said that although “dissenting judges Justice R.F. Nariman and D.Y. Chandrachud have differed with the arguments that I made, I find reading the judgement today ringing profound, very beautifully crafted and clear poetical pros. I think it is the victory of law. I hope a new bench is constituted in the near future. And a final decision binding on all is delivered,” he added.
The senior lawyer’s remarks came after the Supreme Court did not stay its earlier judgement lifting the ban on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala and referred the review petitions on it to a seven-member bench for further consideration.
A five-judge bench, in a 3:2 decision, clubbed the matter with entry of Muslim women to mosques and of Parsi women in the Tower of Silence.
The five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Indu Malhotra, A.M. Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Nariman, was hearing review petitions filed on the apex court’s September 28, 2018, judgement which had lifted a ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple.
Justices Chandrachud and Nariman wrote separate judgments. In a 3:2 split verdic, the bench referred review pleas to a larger bench, without staying its earlier order.