Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Bench of Sunil Thomas, J. allowed the bail application filed by a member of a political party involved in protests against the entry of women in Sabarimala, on the ground that his custodial interrogation did not seem necessary for the investigation.

Petitioner herein was accused of offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 294(b), 506(ii), 324, 427, 332 and 307 read with Section 149 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3(2)(e) of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. Allegation of the prosecution was that on 02-01-2019, petitioner along with 350 people conducted a procession protesting against the entry of women in Sabarimala. They pelted stones at the office of a political party, on police officers, and also attacked the defacto complainant.

The Court noted that the earlier bail application filed by petitioner – leader of the political party – was dismissed by this Court considering that he had committed the main overt acts. He seems to be the. However, even though his earlier bail application was dismissed, the investigating agency had not arrested him till the date of this hearing. It seemed that the investigation had progressed considerably.

Considering the change of circumstances, it was opined that custodial interrogation of the petitioner may not be absolutely essential at that point of time. Hence, he was granted the benefit of pre-arrest bail.[Sivan v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1006, Order dated 26-03-2019]

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Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ has reserved verdict on a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 28, 2018 judgement that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

In the September 28, 2018 verdict the 5-judge Constitution Bench held that not allowing women of any age group to enter the Sabarimala Temple was unconstitutional. The lone dissenting opinion in the matter was that of Justice Indu Malhotra, who said:

“the right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 for violation of Fundamental Rights, must be based on a pleading that the petitioner’s personal rights to worship in the Temple have been violated. the petitioners herein did not claim to be devotees of the Sabarimala temple. The absence of this bare minimum requirement must not be viewed as a mere technicality, but an essential requirement to maintain a challenge for impugning practices of any religious sect, or denomination.”

She was also of the opinion that in the case of the Sabarimala Temple, the manifestation is in the form of a ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’. The belief in a deity, and the form in which he has manifested himself is a fundamental right protected by Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Supreme Court:  The Court said that it may not start the hearing on pleas seeking review of the Sabarimala verdict from January 22 , as Justice Indu Malhotra, one of the judges is on medical leave. Justice Indu Malhotra was the only woman judge of the five-judge constitution bench which had delivered the verdict in the Sabarimala case on September 28 last year. She was also the only judge who renderred a dissenting opinion in a 4:1 majority verdict.

The observation came after lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara mentioned the case and sought live streaming of hearing on the petitions seeking review of the apex court’s verdict allowing all women inside Sabarimala temple, on January 22.

In the September 28, 2018 verdict the 5-judge Constitution Bench held that not allowing women of any age group to enter the Sabarimala Temple was unconstitutional. Justice Indu Malhotra, in her dissenting opinion said:

“the right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 for violation of Fundamental Rights, must be based on a pleading that the petitioner’s personal rights to worship in the Temple have been violated. the petitioners herein did not claim to be devotees of the Sabarimala temple. The absence of this bare minimum requirement must not be viewed as a mere technicality, but an essential requirement to maintain a challenge for impugning practices of any religious sect, or denomination.”

She was also of the opinion that in the case of the Sabarimala Temple, the manifestation is in the form of a ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’. The belief in a deity, and the form in which he has manifested himself is a fundamental right protected by Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

(With inputs from PTI)