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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Sabarimala verdict: How majority view echoes dissent of 2018

The Supreme Court has deferred its decision on review of 2018 Sabarimala verdict until a larger Bench examines broader issues such as essentiality of religious practices and constitutional morality.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Published: November 15, 2019 9:54:13 am
Sabarimala verdict: How majority view echoes dissent of 2018 Justice Indu Malhotra. (Express File Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The Supreme Court has deferred its decision on review of 2018 Sabarimala verdict until a larger Bench examines broader issues such as essentiality of religious practices and constitutional morality.

‘Far-reaching ramifications’

In September 2018, Justice Indu Malhotra said that issues in the case would have “far reaching ramifications… for all places of worship of various religions, which have their own… practices… which may be considered… exclusionary”.

On Thursday, the majority observed that the question of the constitutional validity of restricting entry of women in a place of worship also arises in respect of a Dargah/mosque and Agyari.

Article 14 vs Article 25

Last year, Justice Malhotra had held that the equality doctrine under Article 14 did not override the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25 to freely practise faith.

On Thursday, the court said the larger Bench will have to examine the “interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26… and other provisions…, particularly Article 14”.

Constitutional morality 

Justice Malhotra had said that constitutional morality implies harmonisation of fundamental rights, which include right of every individual or religious denomination to practise their faith in accordance with the tenets of their religion, irrespective of whether the practice is rational or logical.

On Thursday, the majority said: “…‘Morality’ or ‘constitutional morality’ has not been defined in the Constitution. Is it overarching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression…”

Sabarimala 2018 judgment | Justice Indu Malhotra dissents — Can’t invoke rationality in religion

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