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Sabarimala temple case: Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

14 October 2017, 12:47 | Rodolfo Wallace

Sabarimala temple case: Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

Sabarimala temple case: Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

Sabarimala, one of Kerala's most renowned temples which has Lord Ayappa as the presiding deity, does not allow menstruating women to enter the temple.

"The temple can not prohibit entry (of women), except on the basis of religion". In November a year ago, after the Left government took charge in Kerala, there was a U-turn by the state government from its earlier stance and the affidavit stated that it was ready to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.

In February, the top court had indicated that it may refer a plea for allowing entry of women aged between 10 to 50 years in the temple to a five-judge constitution bench. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism.

Matters that related to fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of India are decided by specially empowered benches known as constitutional benches. It said that this can not be done under the Constitution. The observation is in response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the ban on women's entry into the temple. It said that the government was sticking to its 2007 stand, when it filed an affidavit seeking the removal of the ban.

Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to "discrimination" and thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by "morality" as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution?

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The question that has been raised is: Does this ban on admission to the temple, on the basis of medical reasons of the woman violate the rights of equality?

The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.

"A temple is a public religious place".

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra (he was not Chief Justice then), J V Gopala Gowda and Justice Kurian Joseph was hearing the matter during April-May 2016. And if they are within the authority of the Act, are they constitutional - particularly, Rule 3 (b), which talks about the entry of women and girls.



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