After two women – pioneers in breaking the Sabarimala entry ban on women of menstruating age – Bindu Ammini and Rehana Fathima – filed a plea in the Supreme Court demanding safe entry for women entering the temple under police protection; the apex court denied passing any order today. The constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices Surya Kant and B.R. Gavai said, “We will endeavour to constitute a seven-judge bench at the earliest, and these matters would be taken up after the decision of this bench.”

“Every woman who wants to go must go. But, the situation in the country becomes explosive, we don’t want any violence. There is a judgement, but it is not the last word on the issue,” said CJI Bobde, Kalinga TV reported.

“We are telling this after considering the impact of the case,” he said. “We are passing no order, if they (temple authorities) happily welcome you to the temple, then we have no difficulty,” added CJI Bobde.

Declining to pass any order on the matter today CJI Bobde said that the “balance of convenience” required that no orders be passed today as the issue had already been referred to a seven-judge bench. The bench added that while there is no stay on women wanting to visit the temple.

“The issue is that there is a judgement, there is equally no doubt issue for a larger bench to look into it. The situation today has been there for thousands of years, but no order today,” said the Chief Justice. Indira Jaising, who is representing Ammini, told the judges, “We are all here to avoid violence, this country based on the foundation of non-violence, we do not encourage violence.”

Also read: “Women Need Protection” Bindhu Ammini Moves SC For Sabarimala Trek

“My client is a Dalit and Hindu woman, and she had entered the temple, as she is a believer,” said Jaising citing November 2018 judgement.

CJI Bobde responded saying, “It is a very emotive issue, let the matter go to the larger bench.” He repeated that the court is exercising its discretion to not pass the order on Friday in petitioner’s favour.

“We are telling this after considering the impact of the case,” he said. “We are passing no order, if they (temple authorities) happily welcome you to the temple, then we have no difficulty,” added CJI Bobde.

Fathima, one of the petitioner, spoke to SheThePeople.TV on the recent development and said, “All women are allowed to go to the temple according to the SC but they haven’t agreed upon giving special protection to women because of the violent situation. While the constitution does not discriminate between men and women but the court has said that because the devotees will create an issue, women should wait. But I don’t think the devotees are creating an issue, it is the fringe groups who are creating a ruckus. Women also want to visit the temple as devotees but there are some people who are restraining the women and attacking them.”

She added, “The Kerala government has also denied police protection to women and said that whoever wants to go to the temple must procure an order from the SC. Then we went to the SC and the bench said that no such order is required for women to visit Sabarimala but they wouldn’t give any special protection to us. They have asked us to wait until the order of the higher bench.”

 “My client is a Dalit and Hindu woman, and she had entered the temple, as she is a believer,” said Jaising citing November 2018 judgement.

Fathima also spoke on police providing safety to women as she said that “police’s job is to give protection to every individual. They must safeguard women who want to go to Sabarimala.”

On the other hand, Bindu Ammini said that she is taking the Supreme Court’s decision positively. “I am approaching this judgement positively. Supreme Court also talked about waiting for the decision of the larger bench and I am positive that it will be in favour of gender equality. But at the same time, it has denied giving special protection to women. At the same time, I show faith in the judiciary and positively waiting for the larger bench to pronounce a progressive judgement.”

Last month in November, the Supreme Court bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to a five-member bench and categorised it with the larger issue of women’s entry in religious spaces in general.

Also read: Sabarimala Case: SC Refers Case To Larger Seven-Judge Bench

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