Supreme Court refers ban on women's entry at Sabarimala to constitution bench

Sabarimala temple

In February, the top court had indicated that it may refer a plea for allowing entry of women aged between 10 to 50 years in the temple to a five-judge constitution bench.

Confining the questions for reference to the Constitution Bench, a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan stated, basically, the Constitution Bench will choose whether the act of restriction on ladies is sexual orientation biased, violates their right to equality, and religious freedom.

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution.

Despite this, Sabarimala remains different from many traditional temples as it never observed caste distinctions, even as most temples in Kerala restricted entry to those belonging to the four varnas of Vedic Hinduism. Girls and women of menstruating age are not allowed in the premises of the temple, which houses Lord Ayyappan.

The court heard the petitioner's counsel, Raju Ramachandran, amicus Indira Jaising for intervener Happy to Bleed, KK Venugopal (then) senior advocate for respondent the temple authorities etc.

The Supreme Court today pronounced its judgment on the ban on women's entry into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Another women's rights activist is also hoping that the SC rules in the favour of the women as India is a secular country. It said that this can not be done under the Constitution. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ...

Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an "essential religious practice" under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion?

Welcoming the apex court's move, women rights organisations hoped that the Constitution bench would give women equal rights.

The UDF government had taken a view that they were against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.

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

Questioning the age-old custom, the Supreme Court in July had said, "A temple is a public religious place and can not refuse entry to a woman".

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