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

13 October 2017, 01:28 | Opal Carroll

Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala Temple

Gender activists and others waiting for today's Supreme Court judgment on the entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple were slightly disappointed today after the court refused to rule one way or the other, instead referring the matter to a constitutional bench. Earlier this year in February, the apex court reserved an order while referring the case to a Constitution bench.

A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said the issue of entry of women would be tested against the fundamental rights of Article 14 (equality under law) and Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste etc) of the Constitution of India.

The case in this regard is going on since 2016 when a petitioner filed a plea against ban on entry of menstruating women in the Kerala temple.

The entry of women in the temple has always been a topic of debate.

The court was hearing the petition filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association that challenged the custom of the temple to bar entry of women in the 10-50 age bracket (of menstruating age), saying it was discriminatory, NewsX reported.

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The temple, built in the 12th century, is located in Pathanamthitta district and is dedicated to Lord Ayappa.

The larger Bench will choose whether the restriction on ladies to enter the sanctuary qualifies as a "essential religious practice" of the Hindu faith over which the summit court has no ward.

Women's rights activists have high hopes from the apex court.

"Since last couple of months, we have been seeing that the Supreme Court is bringing out several progressive and landmark judgments". I am hoping that tomorrow entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country. It violates the rights of women.

The apex court also framed a question about whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution. "The restriction will be removed hopefully", said Saswati Ghosh.



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