The five-judge Constitution bench will have to deal with the questions raised by the court.
The Supreme Court will declare its decision on the long-existing ban on entry of women.
The reason for the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years as stated by the management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.
The reference to a larger bench was made by a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra in a batch of petitions filed in 2006 by the Indian Young Lawyers Association and others opposing the ban on the women's entry to the temple.
On Friday the apex court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan thought it was better that a constitution bench hear this.
The apex court has referred the matter of women's entry into Kerala's historic Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple to Constitution bench. In all other Ayyappa temples in Kerala, other parts of the country and overseas, women are allowed entry without any discrimination. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country.
Read: SC sends Sabarimala case to Constitutional Bench: 'Is prayer a fundamental right?' You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ...
It was expected that the apex court is likely to announce the verdict today on whether women can enter the Sabarimala Temple. This violates the rights of the women.
Is this prohibition by the religious body valid under the purview of religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution? Being a temple with unique customs and practices, Sabarimala should be allowed to retain its ethnic character, " said TDB member Ajay Tharayil.
The temple's restriction on menstruating women has been a bone of contention in recent times, raising legal questions about women's right to pray and right to equality, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees that the state can not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of the law.
The temple authorities have justified the restriction ladies within the 10-50 age group, saying it is a firm practice established in convention.