SC allows women entry into Sabarimala temple

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On Friday, the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on a centuries old tradition at Sabarimala Temple in Kerala which prohibits women between the ages of 10 to 50 from entering its premises.

The Supreme Court has lifted the ban on the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple in the age group of 10 and 50. The Supreme Court has said that devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination. The court also said that a patriachal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar said that religion is a way of life basically to link life with diversity. They also said that devotees of Ayappa do not constitute a separate denomination.

It is a 4:1 verdict and Justice Indu Malhotra has penned a dissenting opinion. Justice R Nariman and D Chandrachud have concurred with the findings of the CJI and Justice Khanwilkar. The CJI said that women cannot be treated as lesser or weak. He said that in this country women as worshipped like Goddesses. Any physiological or biological factor cannot be given legitimacy if they don’t pass the muster of credibility, the CJI further observed. Exclusion on the grounds of biological, physiological features like menstruation is unconstitutional and discriminatory, the Bench also said.

The case was last heard by a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and including Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra. The apex court had reserved its verdict in the matter on 8 August after hearing it for eight days. However, the bench mentioned the provisions under Article 25 and 26 (Freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution and observed that a person can only be restrained on the grounds of “public health, public order, and morality”.

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