SC allows entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple

28 September, 2018, 18:44 | Author: Emmett Rice
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"Religion can not be a cover to deny women the right to worship.to treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at constitutional morality", Justice DY Chandrachud said on Thursday while reading out the judgement.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, delivered a 4:1 verdict.

However, Justice Malhotra said equality doctrine can not override fundamental right to worship under Article 25.

Millions of devotees visit the temple every year to seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity who is believed to be celibate.

Justice Malhotra further said the right to equality claimed by some conflicts with the right to follow a religious practice, again a fundamental right, and rejects plea for entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala.

The government may also have to hastily beef up facilities and security for women's entry, as the temple will open for the next pilgrimage season in about two months. "Once you open the temple, then anyone can go to it", CJI Misra had said.

More news: Tiger Woods' PGA victory is also a huge win for NBC

The Supreme Court verdict on Friday allowing women of menstrual age the right to worship in Kerala Sabarimala temple, abolishing a centuries-old Hindu religious practice, may have just a landed the state's communist government a political bombshell.

"Article 25 of the Constitution protects the equal entitlement on all persons to freely practice religion", Justice Chandrachud said. "If the age prescribed by notification has no basis on menstruation, then it is arbitrary on the face of it since age can not be a criterion for restricting right to worship", he had said. Relationship with God can't be defined by biological or physiological factors, ' the CJI observed while reading out the judgement.

Justice Malhotra said: "Balance needs to be struck between religious beliefs on one hand and cherished principles of non-discrimination and equality laid down by Constitution on the other". "The ban "exacts" more purity from women than men". He added, "Any custom or religious practice if violates dignity of women by denying them entry due to her physiology is unconstitutional". "It has to be adjudged amongst the worshippers of a particular religion or shrine, who are aggrieved by certain practices which are found to be oppressive or pernicious". "Issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court", Live Law quoted her as saying.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will decide today whether the restriction should be scrapped or not? Another statement which the SC made was that "woman's right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right".

The respondents and intervenors had raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of PIL, pointing out that no woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa had approached the Court.

Post the apex court's verdict, Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar said that they will file a review petition based on the gathering from other religious heads.

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