Claim of custom must yield to right of women: Nariman

Justice R F Nariman on Friday said the fundamental right claimed by the Thanthris and worshippers of Sabarimala temple to allow its custom must necessarily yield to the fundamental right of women between 10 and 50 years of age.

“They are equally entitled to the right to practice religion, which would be meaningless unless they were allowed to enter the temple at Sabarimala to worship the idol of Lord Ayyappa,” he said.

He also noted the temple cannot be granted the status of a separate religious denomination as there was no distinctive name given to the worshippers of this particular temple, there is no common faith in the sense of a belief or common organisation of the worshippers of the Sabarimala temple.

“There are over a thousand other Ayyappa temples in which the deity is worshipped by practicing Hindus of all kinds. It is clear, therefore, that Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution does not get attracted to this case."

He said the custom to prohibit women allegedly constituting an essential part of religion, can be said to be violative of their rights under Article 25.

“The fundamental right of women between the ages of 10 and 50 to enter the Sabarimala temple is undoubtedly recognised by Article 25(1),” he said.

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Claim of custom must yield to right of women: Nariman

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