Sabarimala Temple Case: Supreme Court Refers Women's Entry Case to Constitution Bench

Elias Hubbard
October 13, 2017

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.

The bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan had earlier reserved its verdict on referring the case to a constitution bench.

The top court had been hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the ban on entry of women into the Sabarimala hill temple. Women, aged between 10 and 50, are restricted to take a Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Earlier in 2016, citing the Constitution, the Supreme Court had questioned the ban, saying that this can not be done under Constitution. If so, should their privilege to manage their religious affairs yield to the fundamental right of women to practice religion freely. The Kerala High Court had upheld the Rules and allowed the Devaswom Board to enforce the ban. Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry.

The LDF government, which was in power in Kerala when the petition was filed in 2006, had chosen not to oppose the petition and had filed an affidavit supporting the entry of women into the temple.

"A temple is a public religious place".

One of the questions by the apex court is also if restricting the entry of women violates their rights under the Constitution and amounted to discrimination against them. Meanwhile, the apex court had asked all the parties to submit their submissions. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations...", the apex court had said challenging the ban.

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".

Meanwhile, women's rights activists are hoping for a positive judgment today.

The restriction finds its source in the legend that the Sabarimala temple deity, Swami Ayyappa, is a "Naishtika Brahmachari" and should not be disturbed. "I am sure the judgement will also be very positive and landmark", activist Brinda Adige was quoted as saying by Indian Today.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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