Will women be allowed to enter the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala or not will now be decided by a Constitution Bench, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
The court was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the ban on women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple.
The temple, situated in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from visiting the premises.
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Earlier in 2016, citing the Constitution, the Supreme Court had questioned the ban, saying that this can not be done under Constitution. The matter had been listed for an order in the court of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan. Meanwhile, on one side, women term the practice as discriminatory other sections say, it has to do with complex ritualistic practices of Sanatana Dharma of temples in south India.
The Bench had even indicated that the 1991 judgment of the High Court, upholding the restriction on women, was no bar on a Constitution Bench from deciding the issue afresh. This customary ban had been codified in Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.
The question was whether women's right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 could be invoked in the face of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed under Article 25 and Freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under Article 26 of the constitution. Meanwhile, the apex court had asked all the parties to submit their submissions. "Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry", the court had said. It violates the rights of women. After hearing petitions challenging the ban for quite some time now, the apex court is likely to announce its verdict today. Talking to ANI, women activist Brinda Adige said, "Since last couple of months, we have been seeing that the Supreme Court is bringing out several progressive and landmark judgments".
The Indian Young Lawyers' Association had approached the SC in 2006 demanding the entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala.