On February 20, 2017, the Court expressed its inclination to refer the case to a Constitution Bench.
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The court was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the ban on women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple. In November previous year, after the Left government took charge in Kerala, there was a U-turn by the state government from its earlier stance and the affidavit stated that it was ready to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala. In January 2016, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution. "The temple can not prohibit entry (of women), except on the basis of religion". Venogopal told the court that it was a question of religious diversity and mentioned the name of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Kerala where men are not allowed.
Earlier, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan had reserved its verdict on the plea as it involved important questions of law and the interpretation of the constitution. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ...
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In July, it had said that "a temple is a public religious place". It recently held that the practice of divorcing a woman by chanting "talaq, talaq, talaq" was illegal as it violated Muslim women's fundamental rights.
The Kerala Government has already informed the court that it favours the entry of women of any age into Sabarimala temple. We understand the seriousness of issue. Talking to ANI, women activist Brinda Adige said, "Since last couple of months, we have been seeing that the Supreme Court is bringing out several progressive and landmark judgments". I am hoping that tomorrow also entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive.
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The Indian Young Lawyers' Association had approached the SC in 2006 demanding the entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala. "I am sure the judgment will also be very positive and landmark", she was quoted as saying.