The Supreme Court has decided to begin hearing the Sabarimala case from next week. A batch of about 48 review petitions challenging the top court's September verdict allowing women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple will be considered, the top court said.
A five-judge constitution bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will start hearing the case from February 6 onwards. The case was earlier scheduled for January 22, but had to be cancelled as Justice Indu Malhotra was on medical leave.
Devotees of Lord Ayyappa, the celibate god, have been protesting against the entry of women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50 years as ruled by the Supreme Court.
Some women who eventually managed to enter the temple have faced severe backlash. They are being threatened and one of them was even attacked allegedly by her mother-in-law.
The Kerala government had told the Supreme Court that as many as 51 women of menstrual age have entered the temple since the verdict, but devotees as well as activists refused to agree with the figure.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's determinination to facilitate women's entry into the temple triggered a political war between the state government and the opposition parties, including the BJP and the Congress.
Mr Pijayan has maintained that he is only following the top court's directions.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who earlier spoke in favour of allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala, eventually saw merit in the argument of traditionalists, who say women should be banned from entering the shrine.
Admitting to the change in his stance, Mr Gandhi said he would not "be able to give an open and shut position on this".