Supreme Court Ends Women Discrimination At Sabarimala Temple


Supreme Court put an end to a centuries-old tradition barring women of menstruating age from entering the famous Ayyappa temple in Kerala's Sabarimala.

The top court pronounced its verdict on a bunch of pleas seeking permission for women aged between 10 and 50 to enter the 800-year old Sabarimala temple in Kerala. In a majority 4:1 verdict by a five-judge apex court bench, the court ruled that banning entry of women to Kerala's Sabrimala temple is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women. The five-judge bench consisted of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra. Only Justice Indu Malhotra dissented.

The Indian Young Lawyers Association was the first to file a plea in 2006 in the Supreme Court seeking scrapping of the temple law that restricted women's entry.

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a ban on entry of women inside the famous Ayyappa temple in Kerala's Sabarimala. While Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud concurred with the CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting verdict.

Observations of Supreme Court are as follows (source: indiatvnews):

  • CJO Dipak Misra: Banning entry of women to shrine is gender 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.
  • Devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination. Devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute separate denomination.
  • Kerala law denies rights to women on ground of physiological reasons. Practice of exclusion of women of 10-50 age group cannot be regarded as essential religious practice.
  • Justice Chandrachud: Religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women. It is also against human dignity.
  • Justice Nariman: Custom of barring women is violative of Art 25 (Clause 1). Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Worship. It is struck down

Dissenting note by Justice Indu Malhotra:

  • Issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain secular atmosphere in the country, says Indu Malhotra.
  • It is not for courts to determine which religious practices are to be struck down except in issues of social evil like 'Sati': Justice Indu Malhotra

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