NEW DELHI: The Travancore Devaswam Board (TDB) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that allowing women in Sabarimala Temple will create a wrong precedent for other religions as well and courts would then be flooded with litigation. Senior advocate K K Venugopal appearing for the temple authorities argued before a three judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra and said, “Allowing women entry would hit fundamental belief and faith of devotees. If allowed, this will set a wrong precedent and a flood of litigation will be open. ”
Justifying the ban, Venugopal argued that entry of women of a certain age is not banned per se, but regulated at the Sabarimala temple. On this, the bench questioned saying, “The question is should there be such a religious practice which creates a dent on the concept of gender equality. You must have some kind of cosmopolitan belief which treats denominations of same faith equally.”
Venugopal then submitted that there is an important distinction between Article 25 and 26. While Article 25 is subject not only to public order, morality and health, but to the other provisions of Part III, dealing with Fundamental Rights, Article 26, which deals with freedom to manage religious affairs, is not so subject to the other provisions of Part III, apart from public order, morality and health.
Meanwhile, MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who claims to be a devotee of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala filed an intervention application in the case.
Chandrashekhar, in an email, claimed that the restrictions on the right to entry of female devotees in the age group of 10 to 50 cannot be called discriminatory, but are based on beliefs and customs.
Pointing out the vast differences in terms of acceptable rites and traditions observable in various parts of the country, often with regard to the same deities, Chandrasekhar states that there are several temples that only allow women to enter. The court is hearing a PIL, seeking entry of women in the Sabarimala temple, located on a hill-top in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District. Earlier, the SC had said that denying women the right to enter and pray cannot be justified on the basis of traditions that violated constitutional principle. The hearing will continue on May 6.