Medicine

Supreme Court refers ban on women's entry at Sabarimala to constitution bench

Supreme Court refers ban on women's entry at Sabarimala to constitution bench

The state government on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court decision to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the matter pertaining to the ban on entry of youthful women to Sabarimala temple.

However, the Kerala government on November 7 had informed the Supreme Court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the temple. The ban, the petition says, is discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the constitution (right to equality).

The Indian Young Lawyers' Association had approached the SC in 2006 demanding the entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there. 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. The counsel further maintained that "mere attraction of some people for some temple does not make it a separate and distinct religious denomination". The said temple permits all categories of Hindus to enter the temple, according to the petition.

The entry of women in the temple has always been a topic of debate. Women, aged between 10 and 50, are restricted to take a Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Pathanamthtta in Kerala, on January 15, 2003.

The larger Bench will choose whether the restriction on ladies to enter the sanctuary qualifies as a "essential religious practice" of the Hindu faith over which the summit court has no ward.

It was submitted that this religious practice is not discrimination against women. Girls and women of menstruating age are not allowed in the premises of the temple, which houses Lord Ayyappan. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country.

The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation. It said that the government was sticking to its 2007 stand, when it filed an affidavit seeking the removal of the ban.

The issue being discussed is whether the practice violates Art 14 and 25 of the Constitution. "We have demanded that the matter should be referred to the constitutional bench".

In July, it had said that "a temple is a public religious place".


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