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Hearing starts from January 13, 2020 on Sabarimala Review of the original judgment

The age old religious custom of prohibition of entry of women between the ages of 11 and 50 into the shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala was challenged before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India as a violation of fundamental rights of equality, expression and religion guaranteed under Article 14, Article 19(1) (a) and Article 21 respectively in the case of Young Indian Lawyers Association v. Union of India. The five judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court after listening to arguments of both the parties delivered the original judgement on 28th September, 2018 in favour of the petitioners. The Court declared the practice as oppressive and in violation of the fundamental rights and allowed the entry of women of all ages into the shrine. The respondents and religious groups aggrieved by the order filed a review petition before the seven judge bench of the Supreme Court for the review of the order. The Supreme Court after the arguments ordered the review of the original judgement by a 9 judge bench on 14th November, 2019.

The advanced cause list for 13th January, 2020 issued 06.01.2020 gave the composition of the 9 judge bench that is to be constituted for the hearing of the review references. The bench will comprise of the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai, and Surya Kant. The causelist specifies that the bench shall hear only the reference and will not hear arguments on the review petitions or writ petitions in case.

The issues that can arise for the consideration of the larger bench are: (i) Interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14.(ii) What is the sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution?(iii) The expression ‘morality’ or ‘constitutional morality’ has not been defined in the Constitution. Is it over arching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression, lest it becomes subjective.(iv) The extent to which the court can inquire into the issue of a particular practice is an integral part of the religion or religious practice of a particular religious denomination or should that be left exclusively to be determined by the head of the section of the religious group.(v) What is the meaning of the expression ‘sections of Hindus’ appearing in Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution(vi) Whether the “essential religious practices” of a religious denomination, or even a section thereof are afforded constitutional protection under Article 26?(vii) What would be the permissible extent of judicial recognition to PILs in matters calling into question religious practices of a denomination or a section thereof at the instance of persons who do not belong to such religious denomination?

View/ Download the Cause list/ Notice;

–  Vignesh Hariharan R

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