NEW DELHI: In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed women of all ages can enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. By this ruling, the court had ended an age-old ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years.
"The practice of age restriction on women entry to Sabrimala temple can't be treated as an essential religious practice," the five judge constitution bench said in a majority four-one judgement.
The only judge who dissented on the five-judge constitution bench was Justice Indu Malhotra, who says that issues raised have serious implications for all religions. She said issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain secular atmosphere in the country.
She says 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.
CJI said devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination and patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion. He said the devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate denomination.
Justice Chandrachud said any custom or religious practice if violates the dignity of women by denying them entry because of her physiology is unconstitutional. To treat women as children of lesser god is unconstitutional.
Agreeing with the majority judgement, Justice Nariman said Sabarimala Temple custom of barring women in age 10-50 years is not backed by Article 26 of the Constitution.
The temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is one of the most famous temples in Kerala. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) manages the temple.
The order came on a PIL filed by Indian Lawyers Association seeking the entry of all women and girls to the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappan.