SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

Ebony Scott
October 14, 2017

The apex court also framed a question on the violation of rights under the Constitution with regard to the entry of women into the temple.

The earlier UDF government's affidavit before the Supreme Court had supported the temple's tradition that the deity's form is that of a Naisthak Bramhachari who observes celibacy and therefore, young women should not worship in the temple.

The Constitutional Bench will now have to decide whether the ban on entry of women between the age of 10 and 50, to the Lord Ayyappa shrine in Pathanamthitta, is in violation of fundamental rights - particularly, women's right to equality and right to religious freedom.

The Supreme Court has referred to five-judge constitution bench on the women's entry in Sabarimala temple on restriction of age 10 to age 50 in the temple.

"I hope it [SC] will allow women to enter the temple". According to him, banning entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hindu religion.

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The Supreme Court today is expected to pronounce order on entry of women in Kerala's Sabarimala temple. The Constitution of India guarantees this right too. It said Article 25 of the constitution gives the temple the right to manage its own affairs.

Surendran said the government wholeheartedly welcomed the SC decision.

Another point of contention was that Sabarimala temple does not have its separate administration but is regulated by the statutory Board constituted under Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950. The centuries-old practice, was questioned by the court, in January 2016. "We have demanded that the matter should be referred to the constitutional bench". It violates the rights of women.

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".

The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial. Article 15 of the Constitution places a clear constitutional obligation on the state to not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.

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