February 03, 2020

Sabarimala Case: SC To Frame Issues For Arguments

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court said that it will frame issues regarding legal questions connected with the discrimination faced by women on their entry in religious places, even as lawyers argued that the court cannot club other issues with the Sabarimala temple issue.

Senior advocates like Fali Nariman, Kapil Sibal and Shyam Divan strongly opposed the nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde attempting to broaden contours of the issue, which arose from the controversy about women's entry to Sabarimala temple, by also including restrictions on women's entry into mosques and agiaries.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, former Attorney General K. Parasaran and former Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar opposed this argument. They said the Supreme Court's nine-judge bench can decide the broader issue connected with the interplay between faith and fundamental rights, which has been described in Article 25 and Article 26 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court observed that there is a huge difference between lawyers on the two sides about framing issues for arguments. “All counsels suggested that the court can frame the issues, and we will do that,” said the Chief Justice, who had stated recently that the court is disappointed since the lawyers failed to arrive at a consensus on framing issues regarding the matter.

Senior advocate Nariman contended before the Supreme Court that clubbing new issues will set a new precedent. “How can you think about other issues in a review?” Nariman asked.

Nariman argued that the Supreme Court cannot club other issues with Sabarimala. He said it can’t frame questions in a review and bring in new or fresh issues, adding that the scope of the review is very restricted.

The Chief Justice said, “No. We will not be deciding these issues. We will only interpret articles involved, invoked in these cases”.

Earlier, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Bobde had stated that the SC nine-judge bench would wrap up all arguments within 10 days, and it would deal with legal questions essential for framing questions. The court has expressed unwillingness to grant any extension beyond 10 days.

The observation had come after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's submissions that according to the court's direction, as per the earlier hearing, the meeting of lawyers could not finalize the common legal questions for the nine-judge Constitution bench to examine.

Mehta had told the Supreme Court, “We could not finalize common questions for the consideration. The top court may consider framing question (under these circumstances).” The court asked Mehta to place before it, issues discussed at the lawyers' meeting.

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