Supreme Court opens Sabarimala Temple gates to women of all ages

Supreme Court opens Sabarimala Temple gates to women of all ages

Sabarimala Head Priest reaction, says he is disappointed The head priest of the Shrine or the Sabarimala Thantri said that he is "disappointed with the verdict".

However, Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman on the bench stated that it wasn't for the courts to decide which religious practices should be done away with.

The authorities at the Sabarimala temple, which attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year, have said the ban on women and girls aged from 10 to 50 was essential to the rites related to the temple's chief deity Ayyappan, considered eternally celibate.

On October 13, 2017, a 3-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan referred the case to a Constitution Bench. The court observed that physiological and biological factors can't be given legitimacy if they don't pass the muster of constitutionality, meaning women and men are equal. Constitutional morality would allow all to practice their beliefs. She added that issues that involve deep religious sentiments shouldn't be ordinarily interfered. The authorities had barred menstruating women from entering the Sabarimala temple.

The LDF government, which was in power in Kerala when the petition was filed in 2006, had chosen not to oppose the petition and had filed an affidavit supporting the entry of women into the temple.

Assertion of the right to equality can be invoked only by persons belonging to matters of same faith, creed or sect, she held.

"To treat women as the children of a lesser God is to blink at the Constitution", Justice DY Chandrachud said, while pronouncing the judgment. The decision came after a number of women from the banned age group were detained while entering Sabarimala. "Stigmatises them, stereotypes them". "To suggest that women can not keep the Vratham is to stigmatize them and stereotype them as being weak and lesser human beings".

The Supreme Court has struck down a centuried-old practice that discriminated against women.

In a separate judgement, Justice Chandrachud said that religion can not be used as a cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is against human dignity.

Padmakumar said that women devotees will have to cope with the facilities available. "The law and society are tasked with the task to act as levellers". The Constitution as a constantly evolving instrument has to be flexible to reach out to injustice based on untouchability, in any of its forms or manifestations.

While women have largely been demanding the removal of the archaic rule that prohibits their entry into the temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board has said that tradition and customs can not be broken. But then, the issue seems to be far from over legally as those arguing for the status quo at Sabarimala planning to immediately move a review petition in the Supreme court. On the one hand, women are worshipped as goddesses, but there are restrictions on the other hand.



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