Pre-Judgment Matrix

In September 2018, the Supreme Court held as unconstitutional the Sabarimala temple’s custom of prohibiting women in a ‘menstrual age’ from entering. Following wide-spread protest, the Court agreed to hear over 50 review petitions challenging its judgment. The Court specified that it was only hearing them on the question of whether they should be admitted.

 

Order XLVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 specifies that application for review will only be considered on three grounds (see also Order XLVII of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908):

  1. ‘Discovery of new and important information’
  2. ‘Error apparent on the face of the record’
  3. ‘Any other sufficient reason’

 

Our pre-judgment matrix below looks at the possible outcomes in the Supreme Court’s upcoming judgment. It provides an overview of the possible reasons that may justify either outcome.

 

Will the Supreme Court find there are grounds to review its 2018 Sabarimala verdict?

Sl.No.

Outcome

Reasons

Likelihood

I

Yes

  • Customs of a temple not subject to non-discrimination under Art. 15(2). Religious belief cannot be tested on grounds of rationality
  • Judgment violates Art.25 of worshippers. Celibate character of deity will be lost if women enter
  • Erroneous application of essential religious practices test – whether a practice is universally practiced cannot be test for a religion as diverse as Hinduism
  • Other Devaswom Boards not party to dispute, even though judgment applies to other temples in Kerala

Unlikely

II

No

  • Non-consideration of argument not a ground for review
  • Sabarimala is a public temple and subject to Article 15(2)
  • Essential religious practice test applies at level of a religion, not a single temple
  • Disruption of social-peace not a ground for review

Likely