Supreme Court bench to examine personal laws clashing with gender justice

Supreme Court bench to examine personal laws clashing with gender justice

SAMANWAYA RAUTRAYET Bureau | Jan 8, 2020, 06.42 AM IST

Supreme Court bench to examine personal laws clashing with gender justice

NEW DELHI: Beginning January 13, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court will examine a host of petitions challenging the validity of several practices across religions which are in conflict with gender justice in modern India

The bench, led by CJI SA Bobde, is expected to junk the traditional essentiality doctrine which has in recent years tied the court in knots in cases with a religious connotation. 

The constitutional courts have traditionally examined if a practice was essential to a religion and whether it could be protected as a practice of a separate sect. This has landed the courts in trouble as it warrants an enquiry into theological aspects of religions. 

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The top court has been wanting to junk this essentiality test for years now and instead switch to a more practical method which would involve assuming that every practice was essential to a religion but test it against the values mandated by the Constitution and see if they were still valid. 

The bench’s verdict will not only impact a review filed in the Sabarimala case against a top court ruling permitting women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayappa temple in Kerala, but also others such as the entry of women into mosques, female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Vohras and allowing women into fire temples among the Parsis. 

The bench will include Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswar Rao, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant. 

The judges who were part of the earlier Sabarimala bench Justices RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, will not be part of it. 

Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi had referred all these broad issues to a larger bench while dealing with multiple reviews filed in the Sabarimala case. The reference will be crucial as it would impact the manner in which the state is required to ensure gender justice across religions. 

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