Earlier, women of the menstrual age, between 10 to 50 years, were restricted from entering the temple premises.
New Delhi: In a historic judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday lifted ban on women of all age groups from entering renowned Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
The five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra gave a 4:1 verdict. In four set of judgements, CJI wrote for himself and Justice A M Khanwilkar, while Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting verdict.
Earlier, women of the menstrual age, between 10 to 50 years, were restricted from entering the temple premises. It is believed that the residing deity of the temple, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.
Reading out the verdict, CJI Misra said, “Women no way inferior to men. On one hand, women are worshipped as Goddesses, but there are restrictions on the other hand. Relationship with God can't be defined by biological or physiological factors.”
“Banning entry of women to shrine is gender discrimination,” CJI Misra said.
CJI Misra further said, “Practice of exclusion of women of 10-50 age group cannot be regarded as essential religious practice.”
Justice Misra added that, “Devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination. Patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion. Religion is a way of life basically to link life with divinity. Sabarimala Temple practice violates rights of Hindu women.”
“Devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute separate denomination,” CJI Misra further said.
CJI Misra said Sabarimala temple practice violates rights of Hindu women. He further said, “Devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination. Patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion. Religion is a way of life basically to link life with divinity.”
Reading out his verdict, Justice Chandrachud said, “Exclusion of women is violative of right to liberty, dignity and equality. Exclusion of women because she menstruates is utterly unconstitutional.”
Justice Chandrachud said prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries. He added, “Any custom or religious practice if violates dignity of women by denying them entry due to her physiology is unconstitutional.”
Reading out dissenting verdict Justice Indu Malhotra said, “Issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain secular atmosphere in the country.”
A bench headed by CJI Misra had reserved its judgement on a bunch of petitions that challenge the ban on entry of women on August 1 after hearing the case for eight days.
The plea challenging the ban was filed by petitioners Indian Young Lawyers Association and others.