Apex court questions ban on entry of women at Sabarimala

Apex court questions ban on entry of women at Sabarimala

The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the Sabarimala temple authorities as to why women can’t be allowed entry into the shrine in violation of their Constitutional rights.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Dipak Misra pulled up the Travancore Devaswom Board, managing the temple of Lord Ayyappa in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, for continuing with the prohibition in the name of custom. “Why can you not let a woman enter, on what basis are you prohibiting women entry? What is your logic? Women may or may not want to go, but that is her personal choice,” the court told the counsel representing the board.

The court was hearing a petition by the Indian Young Lawyers Association and others seeking a direction to allow entry of women into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple without age restriction. Seeking Kerala’s response on the petitions, the court said the Constitution rejects discrimination on the basis of age, gender and caste.

“Unless you have a constitutional right to prohibit women entry, you cannot prevent them from worshipping at the shrine. There is a difference between a temple meant for the public to worship and a mutt,” the court said, posting the matter for further consideration on January 18. The court asked the government to explain if it was sure that women have not entered the temple premises in the last 1,500 years.

The petitioners claimed the temple authorities, as a practice, did not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises.

Only those, who have crossed menopause, are allowed, they claimed.

The petitioners sought direction for quashing of the rule contending that the ban was violative of Articles 14 (equality before law), 25 and 26 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution.

The Kerala High Court had upheld the ban enforced under Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.

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