Supreme Court lifts ban on entry of women to Sabarimala Temple

Image Source

New Delhi, September 28: A five-judge Constitution Bench on Friday lifted the ban on the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar ruled against the restriction on women, saying it’s not an essential religious practice. The CJI said the exclusionary practice is invalid.

The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar allowed the petitions against restriction on the entry of women to the temple.

In all there were four verdicts. The first one was by CJI Misra and Justice Khanwilkar, and the second and third by Justice Rohinton F Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud. The first three verdicts were concurring.

Justice Indu Malhotra–the lone woman judge on the five-judge Constituion Bench–delivered a dissenting verdict.

CJI Misra delivered the first verdict for himself and Justice Khanwilkar. The CJI spoke against patriarchal religious practices. The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar ruled that followers of Lord Ayyappa didn’t constitute a separate religious denomination.

Justice Nariman said the practice violated women’s right to religion and right to equality. Majority ruled against the the Sabarimala Temple entry restriction on women.

Justice DY Chandrachud termed the practice derogatory to women. He said religion couldn’t become a cover for such discriminatory practices; women couldn’t be treated as children of lesser gods. Justice Chandrachud termed it a patriarchal practice. He, too, held that followers of Lord Ayyappa didn’t constitute a separate religious denomination. He said the practice was  against the dignity of women.

Justice Indu Malhotra in her verdict said the verdict would have far-reaching consequences for all religions and religious practices. Equality in the context of religious practices must be viewed from the point of view of the followers of the same practice, she said.

Courts should not interfere with a religious practice unless it’s a practice like Sati, Justice Malhotra said. Constitutional morality in a secular polity envisaged freedom to practise religion by all sections of society, she added.

It’s not for the courts to determine whether the practice in question is rational and logical, said Justice Malhotra.

Justice Malhotra disagreed with the four other judges, and ruled that followers of Lord Ayyappa constituted a separate religious denomination.

Earlier, after an eight-day marathon hearing, the Bench had reserved its verdict on August 1.

Source Tribune India