It said all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the Constitution gives right to worship to everyone equally.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce a historical verdict on Friday on entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala. At present women in the age group of 10 to 50 are denied entry on the ground of menstruation.
A five judge Constitut-ion bench comprising the Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Khanwi-lkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra’s verdict will determine whether the religious practice and custom is discriminatory to women.
The Kerala government had made it clear that it was in favour of allowing the entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple without any restriction. The government said it is not against any sort of discrimination towards women.
It said all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the Constitution gives right to worship to everyone eq-ually. Hence, it is not fair to deny a section of women from entering Sabarimala temple. It pointed out that religious practices and customs had changed during the last 50 years and Constitution must also be a progressive document in favour of equal rights for men and women without any rest-riction.
It was argued on behalf of the petitioners that such restriction is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution as enshrined under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. Further S-abarimala is not a denominational temple but a temple for all Hindus and, therefore, Article 26(b) (giving such protection) is not attracted.
Those who supported the ban submitted that it is a unique Ayyappa temple following a religious practice acted upon by devotees for a long term and this custom is protected under Article 25 (1) on the strength of the religious practice on the religious belief from time immemorial. The deity being a celibate does not want to see the women in the menstruating group, as it would disturb the deity’s penance. The court should protect this unique character and not interfere with religious beliefs.
They said devotees from the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka visit the temple in large numbers after following the 41-day penance. and this religious practice and belief is in vogue for several centuries. All men and women have accepted this position because of the characteristics of the deity, which are divine. This is the only temple in the world, which has this practice, and the ancient custom and practice should not be interfered with.