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

Alicia Cross
October 15, 2017

The state government had supported the demands for allowing women in the menstrual age of 10 to 50 into the temple.

The comments came after Supreme Court on Friday referred to a five-judge constitution bench, the question on whether Sabarimala, where entry of women from the age of 10 to 50 (ie women of menstruating age) has been traditionally banned, should be opened to women devotees. Claiming that the security and safety of women would be compromised if women of all age were allowed to enter the temple, the board Chairman stated the board has a firm and clear stand on the matter.

This assumes significance as after coming to power, the CPM-led Left Front government has favoured the entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple - a position that is divergent from the one earlier taken by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

In January 2016, the court had questioned the ban, saying this could not be done under the Constitution.

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The top court had been hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the ban on entry of women into the Sabarimala hill temple. Laws should not abuse the basic rights cherished in the Indian Constitution.

The Constitution Bench will deal with questions whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women. Ironically, Kerala's Sabarimala temple says on its website that it allows people of all religions and castes to pray inside. It is propounded by him that a religious practice based on religious faith adhered to and followed by millions of Hindus for over a millennium in consonance with natural rights of men and women is not violative of Fundamental Rights without appreciating the scope of these rights.

The issue being discussed is whether the practice violates Art 14 and 25 of the Constitution.

Is this prohibition by the religious body valid under the purview of religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution? And if so, would it not run afoul of Articles 14 and 15 (3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the ground of sex?

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