Sabarimala verdict in Supreme Court highlights: Top court lifts ban, women of all ages can enter temple

A five-judge bench Friday was examining the legality of prohibiting women between the ages of 10 and 50 from entering the temple due to “impurity”.  Putting an end to a centuries-old tradition, the Supreme Court Friday ruled that women, irrespective of age, can enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorised the restriction, violated the right of Hindu women to practice religion. It also said that patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump the right to pray.

The bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had reserved its verdict in the case on August 2 this year. Four judgments were delivered today. Justice Malhotra, who penned a dissenting verdict, said the petition does not deserve to be entertained.

A clutch of petitions had challenged the ban, which was upheld by the Kerala High Court. The HC had ruled that only the “tantri (priest)” was empowered to decide on traditions. The petitioners, including Indian Young Lawyers Association and Happy to Bleed, argued in court that the tradition is discriminatory in nature and stigmatised women, and that women should be allowed to pray at the place of their choice.

Sabarimala verdict Supreme Court today highlights: Top court judgment on women between 10-50 years entering Kerala temple. Read this in Malayalam, Tamil

Sabarimala verdict Supreme Court today highlights: Ayyappa devotees throng Sannidanam in Sabarimala. (PTI Photo/File)

Sabarimala verdict Supreme Court today highlights:

The Supreme Court Friday ruled that all women were allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple, irrespective of age. The Sabarimala temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is one of the most famous temples in Kerala. It is managed by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which has backed the ban of women of menstruating age from entering the temple. The TDB argued in court that the tradition is not discriminatory in nature as it was born from the belief that the deity is a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (eternal celibate). Today’s ruling is likely to have an impact on all temples in the state and their customs.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court commenced hearing the case on July 17 this year. Following an eight day hearing, the top court had reserved its verdict in the case on August 1. The case had been referred to the Constitution bench last year, after the apex court framed five “significant” questions on entry of women into temples.

Also read | The Sabarimala controversy can be traced back to the myths that surround Ayyappan and his journey from being a warrior prince to a spiritual recluse

During the hearing, the bench made several observations which serve as a fillip to today’s verdict. It had observed that “what applies to a man applies to a woman” as well and that “once you open it for public, anyone can go”. The bench also said that a “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right”.

“Your (intervener) right to pray being a woman, is equal to that of a man and it is not dependent on a law to enable you to do that,” observed Justice D Y Chandrachud. Justice Nariman had observed that “menstruation is not impure.”


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