SC directs counsels to finalise women's rights issues

SC directs counsels to finalise women's rights issues

Senior advocate A M Singhvi pointed out that there was a need to re-frame issues referred by the five judge bench for determination by the larger bench

A view of Supreme Court in New Delhi, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. Alakh Alok Srivastava's filed a complaint with Delhi Police today, seeking registration of FIR against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who had alleged in a series of tweets that Del

The Supreme Court on Monday directed for a meeting of senior counsel on January 17 to finalise critical issues related to women's rights from various faiths, for its authoritative determination. The issues arose out of the 2018 Sabarimala case judgement allowing entry of all age women to Kerala's Lord Ayyappa temple.

The Chief Justice of India S A Bobde led-bench decided to put the matter, related to interplay of fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of gender and freedom to practice one's religion, among others, for consideration after three weeks.

The top court also clarified that it would go "chronologically" and decide "older problems" first as senior advocate Indira Jaising submitted that there should not be any delay in hearing scheduled petitions challenging validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, on January 22.

Taking up the November 14, 2019 reference by a five-judge bench, the bench said Secretary General of the Supreme Court will participate in the meeting on January 17, to be attended by senior advocates A M Singhvi, Indira Jaising, Rajeev Dhavan, V Giri and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The meeting would consider to "re-frame or add any issues" for decision by the larger nine judge bench.

Dealing with review petitions against the 2018 Sabarimala judgement, a five-judge had said that similar pending questions related to Muslim women's right to enter 'dargah' and mosque, Parsi women, married to a non-Parsi, entering the holy fire place of an 'Agyari' and practice of female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohar community, would require authoritative determinations by a larger bench.

On Monday, at the outset, the bench said, "We are not hearing review petitions, we are hearing questions framed by a five judge bench."

Jaising contended that a decision on review petitions against the Sabarimala judgement of 2018 allowing women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala, should be pre condition to answer the questions framed in November, 2019.

"These are purely academic issues and it can't be devoid of facts," she said, adding that the Hindu, Muslim and Parsi laws are governed by different regimes.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for himself as an intervenor, said: the matter can't be decided without facts of cases. I am a trenchant critic of essential practice doctrine." "I don't see how freedom of religion can be restricted," he added.

To this, the CJI said, we can refer to facts and can decide the questions.

"We are thinking of listing all writ petitions before us. Whatever is incapable of decision, we will not decide," the bench said.

During the hearing, practice of Santhara among Jain community and rights of Shwetambar Jain community women were also raised. Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha also sought to intervene into the matter.

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