Women allowed to enter Sabarimala temple

Supreme Court opens Sabarimala Temple gates to women of all ages

Justice Chandrachud said religion can not be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity.

The five-Judge bench - comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra - came out with four verdicts. Another judge, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had stated that the right to pray is equal for both men and women.

Women and girls were previously barred from the famous temple in the southern Indian state on grounds that the deity, Lord Ayyappa, was celibate and could be angered.

Justice Malhotra further said the right to equality claimed by some conflicts with the right to follow a religious practice, again a fundamental right, and rejects plea for entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala. "Sabarimala Temple practice violates rights of Hindu women".

In July this year, the LDF government restated that gender discrimination should be done away with and that it favors the entry of all women to the temple, irrespective of their age. "The restriction on women within a certain age-band, is based upon the historical origin and the beliefs and practises of the Sabarimala Temple". "Any relationship with the creator is a transcendental one, can not be circumscribed by biological factors", Justice Rohinton Nariman said.

Justice Malhotra said notions of rationality can not be brought into matters of religion and India has diverse religious practices and constitutional morality would allow anyone to profess a religion they believe. In fact, Chief Justice Dipak Misra affirmed that devotion could not be subjected to discrimination and patriarchal notions cannot trump equality in devotion. "The ban "exacts" more purity from women than men".




The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar held that the Sabarimala prohibition was a prejudice against women, which was zealously propagated and was not an essential part of religion.

Reacting to the landmark verdict, A. Padma Kumar, Kerala Devaswom Board president said that the Board will file a review petition in the case.

As a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court struck down the ban on the entry of women into Kerala's renowned Sabarimala Temple, the only woman judge on the bench, Indu Malhotra, dissented with the majority verdict, saying courts must not interfere with issues concerning "deep religious sentiments". "It is up to the worshippers, not the court, to decide what is the religion's essential practice". India was a land of diverse faiths.

It is to believe that if menstruating women entered the temple then it would disrupt the celibacy of Lord Ayyapa.

A decade earlier, Ms Malhotra was the second woman lawyer to be appointed as senior advocate by the Supreme Court, three decades after the first, Justice Leila Seth, was designated.

The respondents and intervenors had raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of PIL, pointing out that no woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa had approached the Court.

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