TDN World Desk: Based on a plea filed by the Pandalam royal court, which has raised the issue of administration of Sabarimala temple, the Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Kerala government to frame the legislation by the third week of January next year.

The top court’s remarks came on a plea filed by the Pandalam royal court, which has raised the issue of administration of Sabarimala temple. There are over 150 temples, including the Sabarimala temple, administered by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).

This, however, did not resolve the issue of allowing menstruating women to inter into the temple sanctum as the state government said that for the time being, it proposes to give representation in the temple advisory committee to only those women who are above 50 years of age. Eventually, it triggered a debate in the courtroom with regard to September 2018 apex court verdict allowing entry of girls and women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple.

The counsel appearing for the state stated that it has formulated amendments to the law that would deal with the temples and their administrations. The draft law also proposes to give one-third representation to women in the temple advisory committee, the counsel said.

Last week, the Supreme Court had in a 3:2 ruling had deferred a decision on reviewing the 2018 verdict until a larger Bench can settle key points of law relating to the right to freedom of religion. The five-judge Constitution bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi sought to club the Sabarimala matter with issues of Muslim, Parsi and Dawoodi Bohra women.

The matter has now been referred to a seven-judge bench which will deal with issues ranging from the essential religious practice test, including the “apparent conflict” between rulings in the Shirur Mutt case and Durgah Committee, Ajmer; entry into a mosque/dargah by Muslim women and into an agyari by Parsi women married to non-Parsis; the interplay between freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14; and, the definition of constitutional morality.

Though the top court did not stay its September 2018 order allowing entry of women into the Lord Ayyappa temple, the Kerala government has said that no women of menstruating age will be allowed near the shrine without a Supreme Court order. It added that the shrine is not a place of activism and that no women devotees will be protected by the police.

Many women, including a 12-year-old girl, have been turned away from the shrine since the temple opened on Saturday.

( With inputs from Indian Express)