New Delhi: The in a major verdict, Supreme Court, on Friday, ruled that the women of all ages can enter the Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala. A 5-judge bench by 4:1 majority passed the verdict in favour of women devotees. They said in the judgment that prohibiting the entry of women in the temple is gender discrimination.
The 5-member Constitution bench was headed by Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra. The court admitted that the provision of Kerala Hindu Place of Public Work (Authorization of Entry) rules, 1965 restricts the rights of Hindu women to follow their religion.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge on the bench, surprisingly gave decision in support of this practice. She said, “The court should not interfere in the religious traditions. If anybody believes in any religious practice then he/she should be respected because these practices are protected by the constitution. The right to equality should be seen with the right to freedom of religion and to cancel any religious practice, is not the work of the court.”
On the other hand, Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, Justice RF Nariman, AM Khanvilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud were unanimous on their opinion. Justice RF Nariman said, “Women have equal right to worship in the temple. It is their fundamental right”. Justice Chandrachud said that to stop a woman to worship means to deny her dignity. He questioned, “Can the Constitution accept the humiliation of a women?”
The court said that all the devotees are equal and there should not be any type of discrimination on the basis of gender. The apex court said that stopping women from the age of 10–50 from entering the temple means to violate the Constitution’s principles.
The court further said that women shouldn’t be stopped from entering the temple due to her menstruation status.
The majority verdict also said that menstruation status of a woman cannot be a ground to deny a woman her right to enter a temple and such practices are not allowed under the Constitution because it is against the dignity of a woman.