Entry of women in Sabarimala: I welcome SC ruling, says Kadakampally Surendran

Joy Montgomery
October 14, 2017

On Friday, the Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its landmark verdict on the entry of woman into Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.

Confining the questions for reference to the Constitution Bench, a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan stated, basically, the Constitution Bench will choose whether the act of restriction on ladies is sexual orientation biased, violates their right to equality, and religious freedom.

A three-judge bench, led by CJI Dipak Misra, had examined the issue at length.

Women's rights activists and lawyers from Kerala had challenged a Sabarimala temple rule which restricts the entry of women in their reproductive phase on the ostensible grounds that the deity was a bachelor.

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Earlier, the apex court was told by the management of the Sabarimala temple that as the women can not maintain the "purity" on account of menstruation, the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years is imposed.

As was usual for Buddhist monasteries in the middle ages, women were not allowed admission to a place inhabited exclusively by celibate monks.

Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had told the court in an affidavit filed in September that it was now in support of entry of women into the temple, reversing its earlier stand on the issue.

"The temple can not prohibit entry (of women), except on the basis of religion". According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country. Then again, the Constitution Bench will also choose whether the restriction is ensured by Article 25 (the privilege to religious opportunity) of the Ayyappa devotees. The petitioners said that religious practice based on faith adhered to and followed by millions of Hindus for over a millennium, in consonance with the natural rights of men and women, does not violate fundamental rights without appreciating the scope of these rights. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations..." I am hoping that tomorrow also entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive. "I am sure the judgement will also be very positive and landmark", activist Brinda Adige was quoted as saying by Indian Today. Being a temple with unique customs and practices, Sabarimala should be allowed to retain its ethnic character, " said TDB member Ajay Tharayil.

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