Extending the debate on women’s right to worship, two women from Pune have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court, seeking intervention.
The PIL has been filed by noted Marathi writer Vidya Bal and social activist Nilima Varta.
The petitioners have claimed in the PIL that besides the Shani Shingnapur temple there are countless other temples, particularly those dedicated to deities like Hanuman, Shani and Kartikaye that bar women worshippers.
Bal and Varta have claimed that such discrimination goes against the principles of gender parity and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.
They have also claimed that the Constitution does not speak of enforcing any bans based on gender in the name of right to religion and thus, such band imposed by temple trusts across Maharashtra are unconstitutional.
A similar petition filed by slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and his organisation, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), is already pending hearing in the HC.
Bal and Varta have now urged the court to club their new petition with the plea filed by Dabholkar in 2000.
The plea filed by Dabholkar too claimed that there are hundreds of temples in the state where women are banned from entering. In this plea, MANS has sought permission for women to enter all such temples where they are forbidden.
The HC is likely to take the new PIL, filed by Varta and Bal, for hearing later this month.