The Supreme Court said on Monday that it will decide on the right of women to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala shrine on the basis of constitutional principles.
“We will now only be guided by the rationale under the Constitution. The gravity of this petition is that gender justice is endangered,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said, and added customary practices will not influence its verdict.
The court was hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association (IYLA), seeking entry of women in the temple.
The Oomen Chandy government recently withdrew Kerala’s 2007 affidavit filed before the SC supporting a petitioner’s demand to lift the ban on women aged 10-50 years from entering the temple. The latest submission chose to support the restriction.
“Can you deny a woman her right to climb the Mount Everest? The reasons banning anything must be common for all and on the bedrock of the Constitution,” the bench, also comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph, said.
The bench asked the counsel supporting the ban about constitutional principles which support the restraining order of the temple board.
“We will like to understand as to what right they have to forbid a woman from entering the temple, a public place,” the bench said, unimpressed with arguments that the practice has been observed for centuries and much before the Constitution came into being.
The bench said it will examine the question as to whether a public religious place can pass such an order and “whether such a prohibition is permissible under the Constitution”.
Referring to the prevalent Hindu protocol, the bench said the mother has to be greeted ahead of father, ‘Kul Guru’ (teacher of the clan) and ‘Kul Purohit’ (priest of the clan) and hence, women should not be prohibited from entering temples.
(With agency inputs)