Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Women's ban at Sabarimala temple: Supreme Court refers case to Constitutional Bench

Women's ban at Sabarimala temple: Supreme Court refers case to Constitutional Bench

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench, a bunch of petitions challenging the age-old practice in Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple of not allowing women aged between 10 and 50 to enter the temple.

Commenting on matter, an activist said that since last couple of months, we have seen that the Supreme Court is bringing out several progressive and landmark judgments; we are hoping that ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive. "Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry", the court had said. This violates the rights of the women. The Constitution Bench will answer the question whether a 1991 judgment of the Kerala High Court maintaining the restriction would add up to res judicata.

The larger Bench will decide whether the ban on women to enter the temple qualifies as an "essential religious practice" of the Hindu faith over which the apex court has no jurisdiction. 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.

The petitioners also includes the Travancore Devasom Board that manages the temple and women's organisations, The Indian Express reported.

This assumes significance as after coming to power, the CPM-led Left Front government has favoured the entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple - a position that is divergent from the one earlier taken by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

The earlier UDF government's affidavit before the Supreme Court had supported the temple's tradition that the deity's form is that of a Naisthak Bramhachari who observes celibacy and therefore, young women should not worship in the temple. The temple authorities have justified the restriction ladies within the 10-50 age group, saying it is a firm practice established in convention.

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