overnment will wait till seven-member Bench of Supreme Court takes a final call on review petitions.
The State government will not allow women in the menstruating age group to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple and instead wait till a seven-member Bench of the Supreme Court takes a final call on a batch of review petitions referred to it for final scrutiny.
The government veered round to this view on Friday on the strength of the legal opinion offered by Advocate General C.P. Sudhakara Prasad. The Supreme Court decision to refer major components of its September 28, 2018 verdict granting unrestricted entry for women of child-bearing age to the temple for another review has offered the government the leeway to defer imposition of the earlier judgment. While hearing the review petitions in October 2018, the Supreme Court explicitly stated that the verdict stands and has not been stayed, but no such specific mention has been made as part of the latest decision. Hence it has been resolved to wait for a final decision, government sources said.
The CPI(M) State secretariat that met here on Friday decided against granting entry of women to the temple. Since many crucial components of the September 28, 2018 verdict had been referred for another review, it was felt that the government should not allow women to the hill shrine, party sources said. It has been clarified that the party has not diluted its stance on gender equality and will firmly stick to its stand to abide by the court decision on the issue. The latest decisions of the government and the political leadership have eased the pressure on the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the Sabarimala temple.
In the wake of the major reversals suffered by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the last Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) leadership had initiated an outreach programme involving senior leaders to gauge public sentiment and also for a course correction on the basis of the responses. Leaders at different levels conducted house visits and it was found that lack of clarity on the government and party stance on the Sabarimala issue was one of the reasons that led to an erosion of its captive vote base. Such responses had pointed to a compelling need to come clear further on matters pertaining to faith, with due accent on the Sabarimala issue. The leadership is also aware of the moves of the Sangh Partivar to use the issue to its advantage, sources said.