The Supreme Court today declined to pass an order on a petition by two women who sought protection to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The top court said it has referred the matter to a larger bench and it won't be appropriate to pass an order now. "The situation at moment is explosive. We don't want any violence," Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
"This is an age old practice going on for thousands of years. Balance of conveniences requires that order should not be passed in your favour now. The matter is under reference and if it is ultimately decided in your favour, we will protect you," the top court said in response to the petition filed by Rehna Fathima and Bindu Ammani, who asked for protection to go to the temple of the celibate god Lord Ayyappa nestled high up in the Western Ghats.
The Supreme Court in 2018 in a historic judgment allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, which angered some devotees of the celibate God. Last month, the top court while deciding on a petition to review its 2018 order referred the matter to a larger seven-judge bench, though it did not stay the 2018 verdict that had allowed entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.
The Kerala government now maintains it will not provide security to "activists" who try to enter Sabarimala.
"Time is not right today to direct the Kerala government to allow petitioner Fathima to enter Sabarimala temple," the court said, adding it has referred the matter to a seven-judge bench. Only after that bench hears the issue on religious practices the petitions of the women activists will be taken up, the top court said.
Indira Jaising, appearing for one of the activists, said the Supreme Court hasn't stayed its order last year that allowed entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala temple.
"We know the law is in your favour. We know that. But going by newspaper reports it is a very emotive issue and it has led the court to refer the case to a larger bench. Please be patient," the Supreme Court said today.
Activist Trupti Desai and other women who tried to enter Sabarimala had to turn back after facing protesters last month. The Kerala government has said it will not give protection to women activists since the matter has been referred to the seven-judge bench.