The Weekend Leader - Sabarimala: SC disappointed over no consensus on legal questions

Sabarimala: SC disappointed over no consensus on legal questions

New Delhi

30-January-2020

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed disappointment over the lack of consensus on framing of legal questions vis-a-vis discrimination faced by women over entry to religious places, including Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.

Chief Justice SA Bobde's observations came after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that as per court directions at an earlier hearing, a meeting of lawyers connected with the case could not finalise the common legal questions for further examination by a nine-judge Constitution bench.

Mehta told the apex court: "We could not finalise the common questions for consideration. The top court may consider framing questions (under these circumstances)."

The court then asked Mehta to place before it the issues discussed in the lawyers' meeting.

A bench headed by Justice Bobde had this week said that a nine-judge bench would wrap up all arguments within 10 days and deal with legal questions essential to the case. The court has expressed its unwillingness to grant extension beyond 10 days.

On Thursday, many senior lawyers involved in the case had urged the court to frame the issues.

The Chief Justice said that the judges concerned will finalise and crystallise the issues over the weekend, which will then be heard by the nine-judge bench.

"There is no other way; we will work on the weekend and sit on Monday, and after that we should start," said the Chief Justice while emphasising the importance of beginning the hearing on the Sabarimala order review plea.

The apex court also cited the Kashmir matters pending before it.

"They first decided the Internet issue (restoration of Internet in Kashmir) while the main matter (abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution) is still pending," the court said when a probable clash of hearings on the Sabarimala issue and other cases in progress before other Constitution benches was pointed out.

"We want to decide it (Sabarimala) for the purpose of laying down the correct law. It was given priority, but something happened. We have enough problems of our own; we decide the best course," said the Chief Justice.

The court also proposed a conference of all nine judges on the bench.

One of the senior counsels said that a majority of lawyers would argue on certain propositions and that suggestions could not intervene in matters of religion.

The lawyers cited the case of a Parsi woman who was not allowed to attend her father's funeral since she had married a Hindu and as per Parsi religion she cannot enter the Tower of Silence. There was also the issue of genital mutilation of a seven-year-old girl from the Dawoodi Bohra community.

The next hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

In November, a five-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, instead of deciding the review plea of the Sabarimala judgment allowing entry for women of all ages into the temple, framed seven questions and referred the same to a seven-judge bench.

The questions included whether "essential religious practices" would come under the ambit of constitutional protection under Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution.

Chief Justice Bobde had explained that the court would only examine the propositions of law raised about religious practices believed to be essential to various religions, and it will not go into the individual facts of the petitions.IANS 


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