April 2019
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SC hearing on Sabarimala: Sabarimala custom cannot be equated to untouchability: K. Prasaran
New Delhi: The Supreme Court began hearing petitions challenging its verdict that allowed women of reproductive age enter into the Sabarimala Temple. The historical verdict had set off massive protests in Kerala by devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is hearing the case. The hearing was scheduled for January 22 but had to be postponded as Justice Indu Malhotra was on medical leave. Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge on the panel, had dissented the verdict. " The court must not interfere with issues concerning deep religious sentiments" she said.

The SC commenced hearing on pleas seeking review of its verdict which had allowed women of all ages enter the Sabarimala Temple. There are 65 cases being heard in total. This includes 4 fresh writ petitions and 56 review petitions.

Senior advocate K. Prasaran, appearing for Nair Service Society, opened the arguements before the five judge bench. " Sabarimala custom cannot be equated to untouchability" he argued.

Senior counsel V. Giri, appearing for Sabarimala Thanthri argued that Lord Ayyappa has a special character and the character of the Diety has to be protected. Devotees cannot question the customs, and they have to accept it. Also, none of the petitioners who moved to SC didn't say that they are devotees.

"Since it is not a caste or religion based exclusion, untouchability will not be applicable here" argued Mr Abishek Manu Singhvi in his argument for Ex-Chairman of the Devaswom Board.

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