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

Oct 14, 2017, 00:48
SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

On Friday, the Supreme Court referred the controversial case of allowing entry of women of menstruating age to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, to a larger Constitutional Bench.

Earlier this year in February, the apex court reserved an order while referring the case to a Constitution bench.

The court was hearing the petition filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association that challenged the custom of the temple to bar entry of women in the 10-50 age bracket (of menstruating age), saying it was discriminatory, NewsX reported. The Sabarimala temple restricts women aged between 10 to 50 years from taking the journey to Sabarimala - which implies women are prohibited from making the hard trek to the place of worship. One of the significant aspects to be decided by the Constitution bench is whether restriction imposed, on entry into the temple amounts to infringement of fundamental rights of women.

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"The government's stance is that there should be no gender discrimination with regards to entry in temples, and wold strongly stand with that opinion".

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. It said Article 25 of the constitution gives the temple the right to manage its own affairs. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ... The Constitution Bench will decide whether Ayyappa devotees frame a different religious category by themselves.

The apex court also framed a question about whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution. This violates the rights of the women.

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The UDF government had taken a view that 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.

"I hope it will allow women to enter the temple otherwise we can not say it is secular country". The temple's rules are ultra vires the state Act which allows equal access to women to all public places such as temples.

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