The Supreme Court on February 6, 2020 reserved its order on the issue of whether it can, while exercising its review jurisdiction, refer the questions of law to a larger bench.
The nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde stated that it will pronounce its order on February 10. The court will according begin day-to-day hearing from February 12. The apex court was hearing cases related to discrimination against women at different religious places of worship including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, which bars the entry of women in menstruating age.
While Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the Supreme Court had the right to refer questions of law to a larger bench, “as custodian of fundamental rights”, Senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the submission and stated that only the President has the right to ask questions of national importance, not the court.
Nine-judge constitution bench
The special bench comprises CJI SA Bobde and Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Banumathi, Surya Kant, S A Nazeer, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
The apex court had announced on January 30, 2020 that its nine-judge constitution bench will frame issues regarding discrimination against women at different religious places including the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. The bench will frame the issues while considering all cases of gender inequality at religious places and the issues will then be taken up for deliberation.
Before this, an SC bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde fixed 10 days to wrap up all cases related to gender discrimination at religious places. The court stated that its nine-judge bench will finish hearing all the cases including Sabarimala review petition within just 10 days.