SC to pronounce order on ban on women's entry in Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala temple

As the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on ban on women's entry into Kerala's Sabarimala Temple, women right activist on Friday expressed hope for a positive and landmark judgment in the matter.

The bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan had earlier reserved its verdict on referring the case to a constitution bench.

The court is hearing a plea challenging practice of banning entry of such women in the temple. In November previous year, after the Left government took charge in Kerala, there was a U-turn by the state government from its earlier stance and the affidavit stated that it was ready to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.

The apex court also framed a question about whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution. If so, should their privilege to manage their religious affairs yield to the fundamental right of women to practice religion freely.

Noting that this is not the first time that the Kerala government has changed its stand, the court asked the state to "unequivocally clarify its position".

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.

One of the questions by the apex court is also if restricting the entry of women violates their rights under the Constitution and amounted to discrimination against them. This customary ban had been codified in Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.

The Bench had even indicated that the 1991 judgment of the High Court, upholding the restriction on women, was no bar on a Constitution Bench from deciding the issue afresh. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ...

In 2014, the Congress-led government said there was a "mistake" in its own submissions to court earlier and that women can not be permitted in the temple because of the deity's celibacy vows.

The court is hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by non-profit body Indian Young Lawyers' Association, seeking entry for all women and girls to the Sabarimala shrine.

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