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9 Judge SC Bench clarifies it is not hearing Sabarimala review case

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New Delhi, Jan 13: A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court said that it is not hearing the Sabarimala review case. The Bench would, however, take up the points of reference relating to the rights to pray and religion as cited by the 3:2 majority view in November last year.

The court made it clear that it would only hear the questions referred in the review order that was passed on November 14 in the Sabarimala temple case.

9 Judge SC Bench clarifies it is not hearing Sabarimala review case

The court would also decide on questions of law on women's entry into Mosques, Temples, genital mutilation by Dawood, Bohras, entry of Parsi women who marry outside their community into the fire temple. The court would not decide the individual facts of each case.

The CJI said that the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court would convene a meeting of all lawyers involved in the case to decide on the issues to be framed.

The Solicitor General sought to know if issues relating to polygamy would be part of the hearing. The court said that only issues and cases referred to by the five-judge Sabarimala Bench would be considered.

The nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde is hearing a batch of 60 petitions.

The other judges on the bench are Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

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    The nine-judge bench has been set up after a five-judge bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, by a 3:2 majority verdict, referred the matter to a larger bench while examining the review petition filed against the historic September 28, 2018 judgement which had allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple.

    Besides Justice Gogoi, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra (the lone woman judge on the bench) were in majority while Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud had penned down a minority verdict on November 14, 2019.

    Of the nine-judge bench, which will hear the matter from Monday, there is no judge from the previous bench.

    The top court had on January 6 issued a notice informing about the listing of the batch of petitions seeking review of the 2018 judgement.

    While referring the matter to a larger bench, the five-judge bench had however said that the debate about the constitutional validity of religious practices like the bar on entry of women and girls into a place of worship was not limited to the Sabarimala case.

    The top court said such restrictions are there with regard to the entry of Muslim women into mosques and 'dargahs' and Parsi women, married to non-Parsi men, being barred from the holy fireplace of an Agyari.

    It said it was time for the apex court to evolve a judicial policy to do "substantial and complete justice".

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