Women have constitutional right to enter Sabarimala: SC

Women have constitutional right to enter Sabarimala: SC

The top court was informed by the Kerala govt that it supported the entry of women of all age groups in the temple. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the women have the constitutional right to pray and enter a temple like men without any discrimination.

“What applies to men, applies to women as well. Where a man can enter, a woman can go,” a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, hearing a reference on the question whether the practice of banning entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple amounts to discrimination and violates their fundamental rights under the Constitution.

The reference to the Constitution bench was made on a batch of PILs filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association and others, challenging the Devaswom board's decision to ban entry of women in the age group of 10-50 years,

“The right to enter a temple is not dependent on a legislation. It is the constitutional right,” the bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said, adding that this right is enshrined under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

The Kerala government, represented by senior advocate Jaydeep Gupta, informed the top court it supported the entry of women of all age groups in the temple.

“You are changing with changing times,” the court told the council, citing affidavits by the Kerala government which had in 2015 had supported the entry of women but made a U-turn in 2017 and opposed the entry.

The council, however, said that the government would go by its first affidavit and support the women.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing 'Happy to Bleed' campaigners, contended the ban on the entry of women of certain age groups was violative of various fundamental rights including Article 17 which dealt with untouchability. The women here were discriminated because of menstruation.

On this, the bench observed, “Your right as a woman to pray is equal to that of a man and is not dependent on a law to enable you to do so.”

"The notification (on ban) does not say anything about menstrual status. It is arbitrary. If the age prescribed by notification is based on menstruation, then it is violative of constitutional morality,” the bench added.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, acting as an amicus curiae, said that denial of the right to entry of women was violative of fundamental rights.

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