Sabarimala entry for ladies case: Big boost for women’s movement from Supreme Court – All details here

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New Delhi | Updated: July 18, 2018 3:59:42 PM

Sabarimala entry for ladies case: The Supreme Court today observed that the entry of women in the age group of 10-50 in the Sabarimala temple of Kerala cannot be denied.

sabarimala templeAyyappa devotees at the historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala. (PTI file)

Sabarimala entry for ladies case: The Supreme Court today observed that the entry of women in the age group of 10-50 in the Sabarimala temple of Kerala cannot be denied. Justice DY Chandrachud observed: “Your (intervener) right to pray being a woman, is equal to that of a man and it is not dependent on a law to enable you to do that.”

Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed, “On what basis you (temple authorities) deny the entry. It is against the Constitutional mandate. Once you open it for public, anybody can go.”

The apex court commenced its hearing on the contentious issue, which is related to the ban on entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala’s historic temple, Tuesday.

The case is being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and includeds justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

The top court bench had asked the counsel for petitioners Indian Young Lawyers Association and others to limit their arguments on the questions of reference made by a three-judge bench of apex court last year.

Kerala minister K Surendran told reporters: “State (Kerala) Government’s stand is that women should be allowed to offer prayers in Sabarimala Temple. We have filed an affidavit in SC explaining our stand. Now it has to take a decision. We are bound to obey its verdict. Devaswom board now have same opinion as government.” The Kerala government had informed the SC on November 7, 2016, that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.

On Tuesday, commencing the hearing for the petitioners, advocate R P Gupta referred to the history of the temple. However, the Bench said, “You should not go into unnecessary things and counsel should limit their arguments to the issues referred to Constitution bench.”

Sabarimala temple is located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.

Sabarimala case: What the Supreme Court said in past

– On October 13, 2017, the yop court had referred the case to a Constitution bench after framing five “significant” questions including whether the practice of banning entry of women in the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights under the Constitution.

These questions included:

  • “Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to ‘discrimination’ and thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by ‘morality’ as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.”
  • Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an “essential religious practice” under Article 25 of the Constitution 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.
  • Whether the Ayyappa temple has a denominational character and “if so, is it permissible on the part of a ‘religious denomination’ managed by a statutory board and financed under Article 290-A of the Constitution out of Consolidated Fund of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to indulge in such practice violating constitutional principles/morality embedded in Articles 14, 15(3), 39(a) and 51-A(e)”.
  • Whether Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules permits ‘religious denomination’ to ban entry of women between the age of 10 to 50 years. “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.”
  • Whether this rule is ultra vires the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 and, “if treated to be intra vires, whether it will be violative of the provisions of Part III of the Constitution.”

– Earlier, Sabarimala temple management had told the Supreme Court told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” on account of menstruation.

– Indian Young Lawyers Association and others have sought directions from the top court to ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10 and 50 at the Lord Ayappa temple at Sabarimala.

– In 2007, the LDF government had favoured women’s entry into the temple, But this was overturned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government later. The Congress-led government had said 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.

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