Health Care

Sabarimala Temple Case: Supreme Court Refers Women's Entry Case to Constitution Bench

Sabarimala Temple Case: Supreme Court Refers Women's Entry Case to Constitution Bench

RP Gupta, the counsel for the petitioners, submitted in court that there is no religious custom or usage in the Hindu religion specially in Pampa river region to disallow women during menstrual period.

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.

On November 7 past year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.

A Constitution bench will decide on entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in Kerala's Sabarimala temple. In all other Ayyappa temples in Kerala, other parts of the country and overseas, women are allowed entry without any discrimination.

"Such practices that exclude women from practising their freedom of religion need to be tested against the fundamental rights of the country", Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra while announcing the observation commented. It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

The Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of the ban on entry of women by the management of the Sabarimala temple.

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Another point of contention was that Sabarimala temple does not have its separate administration but is regulated by the statutory Board constituted under Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950.

Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to "discrimination" and thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by "morality" as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution?

Questioning the age-old custom, the Supreme Court in July had said, "A temple is a public religious place and can not refuse entry to a woman". It violates the rights of women.

"A temple is a public religious place".

In 2008, the LDF government had filed an affidavit before the apex court supporting the entry of women of all age groups to Sabarimala, which bars women of menstruating age.


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