Can women enter Sabarimala temple? SC's landmark verdict

29 September, 2018, 20:41 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Hindu pilgrims queue outside the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers

Perhaps nothing in the world today is as abstract as the concepts of faith and religion. Taken together, the majority judgment clearly implies that religious rights can't take precedence over fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

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

The Supreme Court has struck down a centuried-old practice that discriminated against women. In fact, this primary function of the apex court is enshrined in Article 32 of the Constitution.

Also, the Mumbai High Court ruled that women can not be barred from the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali shrine, an Islamic mosque and tomb in the southern part of the city.

"Issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily interfered by the court".

The lone dissenting voice on the five-judge bench came from the only female jurist.

Justice Nariman said Sabarimala Temple custom of barring women in age 10-50 years is not backed by Article 26 of Constitution. "Menstruating women can not fulfill the vows".

After a detailed analysis, the judge observes: "The operation of the words used by the Constitution can not be confined to a particular form or manifestation of "untouchability".

Women were also prevented from entering Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah mausoleum until the high court scrapped the rule in 2016.

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"This is then employed to deny access to spaces to which women are equally entitled". The social exclusion of women, based on menstrual status, is but a form of untouchability which is an anathema to constitutional values.

Thus, it is either naive or sly to suggest that the celibacy argument is not sexist at all.

Chief priest Kandararu Rajeevararu told The Hindu that there had never been any blanket ban on women's entry to Sabarimala.

Jaising had argued that the custom is discriminatory in nature and that it stigmatised women. He said the temple had a right to manage its own religious affairs, and that the regulations on women's entry were in place to respect the privacy of Ayyappan - the Hindu god of growth, who is considered a legal entity under Indian law - and who is considered be practicing celibacy. I am thinking of going to the temple now that women are allowed. "Prohibition of women's entry to the shrine exclusively on the basis of womanhood and the biological features associated with womanhood is derogatory to women", Kaleeswaram Raj had pointed out in The Hindu.

'Deities have certain rights and their rights should be protected, ' he said.

"What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court. notions of rationality can not be brought into religion", said Malhotra.

"It opens up the way forward for Hinduism to become even more inclusive and not a property of one caste or one sex", Ms Gandhi said.

The Supreme Court has lifted the ban on entry of women into the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. Discrimination against menstruating women is prevalent in many communities in India that consider them impure and restrict them from religious rituals.

Friday's order, which accepts womens' right to worship at Sabarimala, is expected to help remove some of the stigma associated with periods.

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