Women's rights activist Trupti Desai said on Thursday that women should be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple till a seven-judge Supreme Court bench delivers verdict on the issue, and vowed to offer prayers at the shrine when it is opened for worship.
"What I understand is that till the court order comes, entry is open for women and no one should protest against it. People who say that there is no discrimination at all are wrong, because women of specific ages are not allowed there. I am going to offer prayers on November 16," the Pune-based Desai told reporters after the SC verdict.
Desai had made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the temple in November last year, weeks after the Supreme Court lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala and held that the centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.
On a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 2018 judgement on the Sabarimala issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday said restrictions on women in religious places was not limited to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well as it referred all review pleas to a larger seven-judge bench.
Women's rights activist Kavita Krishnan questioned why the review petition was sent to a larger bench.
"SC as a rule rejects review petitions...Review petition in Sec 377 was rejected. But #SabarimalaVerdict is referred to larger bench!...SC is giving us the distinct impression that verdicts, treatment of review petitions are influenced by what pleases/displeases those in power," she tweeted, referring to the court's judgement on consensual same-sex relationship.
The majority verdict did not say anything adverse against the apex court's September 28, 2018 decision allowing women to enter the shrine nor did it stay the earlier judgement.
Social activist and petitioner in the Sabarimala case, Rahul Easwar welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to refer the case to a seven-judge bench.
"There is an implicit admission that the earlier verdict should be reviewed. I think that is a positive step in the right direction and we should welcome that. Please don't interfere in any faith matter, India is a land of great pluralism and faith freedom. It is the greatness of India that we are culturally so diverse," he told reporters.