Bench – 9J – S A Bobde, R Bhanumati, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageshwar Rao, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai, Surya Kant JJ.
Decided on – 11th May 2020
Decided under inherent jurisdiction of the SC. This was a review based upon the maintainability of the reference to a larger bench when review of Sabarimala case was still pending.
Brief Facts –
- Indian Young Lawyers Association filed Writ Petition challenging the validity of Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965. They demanded to direct the respondents to allow women between the age group 10-50 to worship in the Ayyappa Temple. A3 J bench of this Court referred the matter to a larger bench of 5J.
- In Sabrimala in a 4:1 majority it was held that the devotees of Lord Ayyappa did not constitute a separate religious denomination and couldn’t claim the benefit of Article 26. Exclusion of women between the ages of 10 to 50 years from entry into the temple was violative of Article 25 Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 was declared as violative of Article 25 (1) as well as ultra vires Section 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965.
- Ranjan Gogoi CJ, and A.M. Khanwilkar J. and Indu Malhotra J. held that the scope of the freedom of religion guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution needed an authoritative pronouncement by a larger bench of not less than seven Judges. They also held that the contours of judicial review in matters pertaining to essential religious practices needed to be authoritatively established. Conflict of opinion between the judgments in Commissioner Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras vs. Shri Lakshmindra Thritha Swaminar of Sri Shirur Mutt, 1954, and Durgah Committee, Ajmer vs. Syed Hussain Ali, 1962 pertaining to the role of the Court in matters which are essential religious practices needs to be harmonized.
- R.F. Nariman J. and D.Y. Chandrachud J. dissented and held that there was no requirement for the review.