SC constitutes a nine-judge Bench to hear Sabrimala review pleas

On November 2019, a five-judge bench of Supreme Court while reviewing the Sabrimala verdict said that the matter must be referred to a larger bench along with the religious matter of other groups. Ordinarily, when a 5 judge bench refers a matter to a larger bench, a seven-judge bench is formed. But, the CJI used his power under Order VI Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, decided to have nine judges deliberate on the issues, considering that religious practices are a sensitive issue and that CJI wanted to settle the religious disputes once and for all.

The bench consists of CJI Bobde, Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant. The CJI ensured that none of the judges who had previously deliberated on Sabarimala issue was a part of the bench

The bench will look into the Sbaraimala verdict as well as the right of Muslim women to enter mosques, genital mutilation by Dawoodi Bohras, entry of Parsi women who marry outside their community into the community’s fire temples.  

Some of the broad questions that the bench seeks o answer is “what is the connection between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14?”, “What is the sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution?”.

The hearing is expected to commence in the first week of February.


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