Published: Sun, October 15, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

The state government had supported the demands for allowing women in the menstrual age of 10 to 50 into the temple.

Kottayam: Even though the Supreme Court rendered its verdict favouring the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, those women who respect tradition will not enter the temple, said Travancore Devaswom Board ( TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan. Claiming that the security and safety of women would be compromised if women of all age were allowed to enter the temple, the board Chairman stated the board has a firm and clear stand on the matter.

The temple, situated in Pathanamthitta district, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, according to The Times of India.

Questioning the age-old custom, the Supreme Court in July had said, "A temple is a public religious place and can not refuse entry to a woman".

Indian Young Lawyers Association had moved the Supreme Court on the matter seeking entry for all women and girls to the Sabarimala shrine, which houses Lord Ayyappan.

It was argued that such a restriction is contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution as enshrined under Articles 25 and 26. The coalition government, which returned to power in May, told the Supreme Court in July that it will not oppose the temple ban on women.

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The Travancore Dewaswom Board that manages Sabarimala Ayyappa temple justified the restriction on the entry of women on the grounds that the deity, Lord Ayyapa, is a "Naisthik Brahmachari" (celibate) and said that 1,000-year-old custom and religious practice can not be interfered with.

The top court has also raised six questions on the issue to be considered by the Constitution bench.

The larger Bench will choose whether the restriction on ladies to enter the sanctuary qualifies as a "essential religious practice" of the Hindu faith over which the summit court has no ward. Then comes the issue of providing safety and security to both women pilgrims and women police officials.

He asked if everyone was trying to make Sabarimala a Thailand by making women between the age of 10 to 50 climb uphill under the challenging weather conditions without any safety.

It is also to be decided whether Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship Act violates Article 14.

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