Medicine

Women's ban at Sabarimala temple: Supreme Court refers case to Constitutional Bench

Women's ban at Sabarimala temple: Supreme Court refers case to Constitutional Bench

Now, in its 31-page order, the SC has laid down certain questions, that it feels needs to be considered by the larger Constitutional Bench.

Senior counsel Jaideep Gupta had told the court that the Kerala government "supports the proposition that women of any age group should be permitted to enter the Sabarimala temple".

Women's rights activists and lawyers from Kerala had challenged a Sabarimala temple rule which restricts the entry of women in their reproductive phase on the ostensible grounds that the deity was a bachelor.

Sabarimala, one of Kerala's most renowned temples which has Lord Ayappa as the presiding deity, does not allow menstruating women to enter the temple.

Earlier, the apex court was told by the management of the Sabarimala temple that as the women can not maintain the "purity" on account of menstruation, the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years is imposed. It said the constitution bench will also deal with the question whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.

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The apex court had reserved the order on referring the case to a constitution bench in February.

The Supreme Court on Friday referred the matter relating to the entry of women in Kerala's Sabarimala shrine to a five-judge Constitution bench. According to him, banning entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hindu religion. It said Article 25 of the constitution gives the temple the right to manage its own affairs. The court will be going great injustice to millions of devotees if it interferes and will set a precedent which will seriously affect other religious institutions, the board asked.

The Supreme Court has, in the past, termed illegal traditional and religious practices that violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution. It violates the rights of women.

The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial. And if so, would it not play foul of Articles 14 and 15 (3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the ground of sex? The temple's rules are ultra vires the state Act which allows equal access to women to all public places such as temples.


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