SC sends Sabarimala case to Constitutional Bench: 'Is prayer a fundamental right?'

Lester Mason
October 13, 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to its constitution bench the matter pertaining to a ban on the entry of women at Kerala's Sabarimala temple.

Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had told the court in an affidavit filed in September that it was now in support of entry of women into the temple, reversing its earlier stand on the issue. The management of the Sabarimala temple has said earlier the ban on women entry between the ages 10-50 was because they can not maintain the purity on account of menstruation.

The temple, situated in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from visiting the premises. The centuries-old practice, was questioned by the court, in January 2016.

The bench comprised of Dipak Misra, R Banumathi, and Ashok Bhushan had earlier requested to submit the things that need to be presented at the Constitutional Bench.

The management of the temple had stated that ban on entry of women was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.

The apex court has also framed several questions to be dealt with by constitution bench.

In July, it had said that "a temple is a public religious place". The PIL of the Indian Young Lawyers Association challenges the temple custom stating that it is discriminatory. "Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry", the court had said. It had asked the parties to file written submissions that would fall under the Constitution. It recently held that the practice of divorcing a woman by chanting "talaq, talaq, talaq" was illegal as it violated Muslim women's fundamental rights.

Senior Counsel KK Venugopal who appeared for Travancore Devasom Board, which manages the shrine, had told the court that the discrimination wasn't between men and women but was between women and women.

Women's rights activists have high hopes from the apex court.

The restriction finds its source in the legend that the Sabarimala temple deity, Swami Ayyappa, is a "Naishtika Brahmachari" and should not be disturbed. "I am sure the judgement will also be very positive and landmark".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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