Published: Sat, September 29, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Supreme Court scraps Sabarimala temple ban on entry of women

Supreme Court scraps Sabarimala temple ban on entry of women

In a landmark judgment, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on September 28 lifted the ban on the entry of women aged 10-50 inside the 800-year-old Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

It is the second judgment in two days that has given a boost to gender equality in India.

TDB president A Padmakumar also told reporters the board will implement the court's verdict.

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 29: Shiv Sena has called for a statewide 12 hours strike on October 1 against Supreme Court's verdict to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala Temple.

"Women are not lesser or inferior to man", CJI Misra said, adding that the patriarchy of religion can not be allowed to trump over faith.

The top court's verdict is part a string of recent rulings that recognize more rights of women, challenging deeply conservative Indian society. Discrimination against menstruating women is prevalent in many communities in India that consider them impure and restrict them from religious rituals. In January this year, the temple authorities had made it mandatory for female devotees to furnish their age proof while visiting.

The temple remains open only for 127 days in a year and the approach to it entails hard paths through a forest.

The Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

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However, it has been argued in other articles sympathising with Justice Malhotra's dissenting verdict that in the Sabarimala temple case, no fundamental right had been violated in the first place.

Lifting the ban, the Chief Justice of India said "restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can't be held as essential religious practice".

That was clearly because the board knew the ban wouldn't stand in front of legal questioning for it was clearly an anti-constitutional practice. "It affects the very core of temple beliefs and temple systems", said Rahul Eeswaran, a social activist who supports the ban. It says that this is a "progressive judgment". "If the age prescribed by notification has no basis on menstruation, then it is arbitrary on the face of it since age can not be a criterion for restricting right to worship", he had said.

During the hearings in July and August, the Supreme Court itself remarked that the tradition was "steeped in chauvinism and patriarchy".

On Thursday, the court struck down a colonial-era law that criminalised adultery, a day after imposing stringent new limits on how information on the database of the world's largest biometric identity card programme can be used.

"Right to worship is given to all devotees and there can be no discrimination on the basis of gender. Prohibition can't be regarded as an essential component of religion", said the judges' ruling.

"It takes time. It is not a magic wand".

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