SC refers Sabarimala Temple Case to Constitution bench

Faith Castro
October 14, 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday referred the much-debated issue as to whether women should be allowed to enter Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple in Kerala's Pathanamthitta to a five-judge constitution bench.

The bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan had earlier reserved its verdict on referring the case to a constitution bench.

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution. The matter pertains to a ban on women at Kerala's historic Sabarimala temple.

The women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple.

However, the Kerala government on November 7 had informed the Supreme Court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the temple.

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The Travancore Dewaswom Board that manages Sabarimala Ayyappa temple justified the restriction on the entry of women on the grounds that the deity, Lord Ayyapa, is a "Naisthik Brahmachari" (celibate) and said that 1,000-year-old custom and religious practice can not be interfered with.

Matters that related to fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of India are decided by specially empowered benches known as constitutional benches. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism.

The question that has been raised is: Does this ban on admission to the temple, on the basis of medical reasons of the woman violate the rights of equality? Then again, the Constitution Bench will also choose whether the restriction is ensured by Article 25 (the privilege to religious opportunity) of the Ayyappa devotees. We understand the seriousness of issue.

It was expected that the apex court is likely to announce the verdict today on whether women can enter the Sabarimala Temple. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations", the report further added. I am hoping that tomorrow entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive. "I am sure the judgment will also be very positive and landmark", she was quoted as saying.

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