#BigWin: All women can enter Sabarimala Temple, says Supreme Court

Minnie Murray
September 28, 2018

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala region of Kerala happens to be one of the most famous pilgrimage sites for Hindus in India.

The five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, noted that Article 25 (the right to practice religion) is applicable to both men and women. Similar to the president of the Travancore Devasom Board president, he said that the temple may have to implement the verdict.

Responding to a question on the earlier incident, Jayamala said, "That day also I had faith and belief in God and our Judiciary, and that faith and belief has come true today".

The apex court had on October 13 previous year referred the issue to a constitution bench after framing five "significant" questions including whether the practice of banning entry of women into the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights under the Constitution. Patriarchy can not trump freedom to practice religion, it said.

Devotees of Lord Ayyappa are planning on filing a review plea on the judgment Akhila Bharatiya Ayyappa Seva Sangham, an organisation for Ayyappa devotees across the country said that the permitting in the menstruating age in the temple dilutes it sanctity, according to the Firstpost.

"Religion can not become a cover to exclude and deny women their right to worship", Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also said in a separate but concurring judgment. Since this matter raises far-reaching consequences relating to Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, we have found it necessary to decide this matter on merits.

"Every temple has its own tradition and ritual practices and these have now changed with the court verdict", he said.

"It is constitutional morality that is supreme".

The Sabarimala temple's Devasom board has said that it must protect the customs of the temple. "These are new and evolving forms of untouchability in the realm of patriarchy", she said, referring to an outlawed practice of untouchability under India's ancient caste system.

Supreme Court allows women of all age groups to enter the temple, thus ending the age-old restriction.

But women of menstruating age are barred from entering.

Concurring with the CJI's judgment, Justice Nariman stuck down Rule 3 (b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which prohibited the entry of women of the aforementioned ages inside the temple.

The Sabarimala Temple, considered the abode of Lord Ayyappa, is located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Kerala.

"Rules disallowing women in Sabarimala are unconstitutional and violative of Article 21", the judge said.

"In the theatre of life, it seems, man has put the autograph and there is no space for a woman even to put her signature".

'We will go ahead with the fight as it (the verdict) affects the very core and belief of temple systems, ' Easwar told reporters.

"There is a reason why women are not allowed inside the temple".

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