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SC seeks to protect petitioner facing threats in PIL seeking entry of women to Sabarimala temple

Taking serious note of threats to the president of the petitionerassociation, the Indian Young Lawyers Association, whose PIL the SupremeCourt is currently hearing, the three Judge bench led by Justice DipakMisra on 18 January made it clear that access to justice can’t be dented byanybody.

The petition, which seeks the right of women in the age group of10 to 50, to worship at the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala, has led tohuge controversy, with believers questioning the motives of thepetitioners.

Besides, the merits of the court’s intervention in the casehave also come under scrutiny by observers, who have questioned the locusof the petitioners.

As Justice Misra directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to respond to thenotice, to explain what steps have been taken on the complaint of thepetitioner, and to ensure that attempts of this nature are crippled in thebeginning, he clarified that this is a PIL canvassing the cause for genderequality.

Senior counsel representing the Board which administers theSabarimala temple, KK Venugopal agreed with the court.

Dictating theorder, Justice Misra, mentioned that both Venugopal and senior advocate,representing the Kerala Government, V Giri have described the threats asatrocious.

When the president of the petitioner association complained that he isbeing trolled by many on the social media, with his photograph and mobilenumber on full display, Justice Misra the bench made it clear that itwon’t control social media and asked the police to investigate theorigin of the threats.

Justice Misra added that whether women should beallowed to worship in the Sabarimala temple is to be decided in due courseof the hearing, and such hearing is not dependent, especially in a PIL, onany person.

Once the PIL s admitted for hearing, even if the petitionerwishes to withdraw, the court may decline, he said emphatically.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled on 8 February.

The order passedby the bench, can be read here

The bench heard the case at the unusual time of 1:15 pm during the lunch hour at Court 4, so as to complete the hearing 15 minutes before the Constitution bench hearing on the Arunachal matter was to begin at 2 pm at Court 3, in which Justice Misra was to join.

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