New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it might not start hearing pleas seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict from January 22 as one of the judges is on medical leave.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has informed that Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge of the bench considering the case, is on medical leave and so the case is unlikely to be considered on January 22. She had earlier opposed the entry of women of menstruating age into Sabarimala. The Supreme Court verdict on September 28 had triggered massive protests across Kerala.

The court had earlier decided to consider the pleas on January 22. A total of 49 review petitions have been filed before the court.  The Chief Justice made the statement while considering advocate Mathew Kuzhalnadan’s plea to telecast the court proceedings live. 

Chief Justice made the matter clear while reacting Mathew Kuzhalnadan’s request to consider the plea urgently and to telecast live and record the court proceedings. The petitions will be considered by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

Allowing unrestricted access to the court proceedings is expected to enhance public awareness of intricacies of the faith of the sect of Lord Ayyappa's followers. The hearing could turn out to be a watershed moment in the history of the evolution of religions in the country, as many living in the north of the Vindhyas may well begin respecting the belief system of the devotees who largely hail from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This, in turn, might blunt the attack on the faith by ill-educated or politically-motivated feminists and their cheerleaders.

Meanwhile, four women in southern India made history by entering Sabarimala temple where women of menstruating age have not been allowed for centuries. 

Bindu from Kozhikode and Kanakadurga from Malappuram entered the shrine on January 2. On January 3 Sasikala, a woman from Sri Lanka, came with ‘Guruswami’ and had the darshan of Lord Ayyappa. 36-year-old Manju entered the Sabarimala shrine on January 8.