Supreme Court to deliver judgment tomorrow in Sabarimala temple entry for women

Can women enter Sabarimala temple? SC's landmark verdict - Tamil Movie News

In a landmark judgment, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on September 28 lifted the ban on the entry of women aged 10-50 inside the 800-year-old Sabarimala temple in Kerala. A number of petitions had challenged the restrictions on the entry of women of menstrual age. In October 2017, a three-judge bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan, had referred the matter for consideration to a Constitution bench.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman in the five-member judge bench dissented the ruling of the Supreme Court.

"Notions of rationality can not be invoked in matters of religion", said Justice Malhotra, adding: "What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court". India is a diverse country.

Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gives freedom to practise even irrational customs. "Issues of deep religious sentiments shouldn't be ordinarily interfered into".

He added that the Kerala government set high priority on women's security and would not allow their security in the temple to be threatened. The revered shrine only opens for certain auspicious days each year.

"The attribute of devotion to divinity can not be subjected to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender". He noted that the prohibition of women is not due to religious reasons but due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.

The apex court was assessing the constitutionality of the Sabarimala custom of excluding women in their "menstruating years".

Perhaps, the most significant statement on the practice came from Justice Chandrachud.

He said the logic behind the ban was that presence of women deviated men from celibacy.

CJI Misra added, "Women no way inferior to men. It stigmatises them, stereotypes them". It will be interesting to see how women believers react. SC said that practice of exclusion can not be regarded as essential religious practice, and this custom is not backed by Article 25 and 26 of the constitution, which are related to the right of freedom to practice any religion and religious practices.

The respondents and intervenors had raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of PIL, pointing out that no woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa had approached the Court. "As society evolves, so should our religious beliefs and law".

Justice Misra noted: "Rules based on biological characteristics will not muster Constitution".

Rahul Easwar, one of the main activists who backed the Sabarimala ban, said he would appeal to the Supreme Court for a review before the temple reopens next month.

A Padmakumar, the president of the Travancore Devaswom Board, said the body will take steps to implement the top court's verdict.

Justice Malhotra said right to equality conflicts with right to worship of devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

The verdict of the case will be passed taking into account the plea stating that the temple's rules Articles 14, 15 and 17. It partially struck down one colonial-era law and scrapped another to decriminalise sex between consenting adults of the same sex and adultery.

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