Sabarimala reference case: SC asks lawyers to fix issues to be considered for hearing

Lawyers to meet on January 17; next hearing after 3 weeks

Supreme Court to hear plea of 10 rebel Karnataka MLAs today [File] A Supreme Court bench headed by S.A. Bobde will hear the MLAs' plea | Sanjay Ahlawat

The nine-judge Constituion bench of the Supreme Court on Monday directed lawyers appearing for various parties to convene a meeting on January 17 for deciding issues to be taken up by it in Sabarimala reference case. The Supreme Court added that its Secretary General will coordinate with lawyers in reframing or adding issues to be dealt by it. The apex court informed that the pleas regarding discrimination against women in various religions will be taken up for hearing after 3 weeks.

The points to be looked into by the meeting include reframing or addition of issues, time-bound arguments by the counsels and points to be argued and who will argue what. 

Senior lawyers appearing for the various cases challenging restrictions on women on the basis of religion and religious places include Indira Jaising, Rajeev Dhavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Aryama Sundaram. 

Earlier in the day, commencing the hearing, the nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said that it was not considering review pleas in the Sabarimala case. "We are not hearing review pleas of Sabarimala case. We are considering issues referred to by a 5-judge bench earlier," the bench said.

The apex court had on November 14 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.

While the five-judge bench unanimously agreed to refer religious issues to a larger bench, it gave a 3:2 split decision on petitions seeking a review of the apex court's September 2018 decision allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala.

A majority verdict by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra decided to keep pending pleas seeking a review of its decision regarding entry of women into the shrine, and said restrictions on women in religious places was not restricted to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well.

The minority verdict by Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud gave a dissenting view by dismissing all review pleas and directing compliance of its September 28 decision.

(With PTI inputs)