Justice Indu Malhotra, lone woman on SC bench hearing Sabarimala temple case, explains why she dissented

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Sep 28, 2018 01:09 PM IST

In a 4:1 verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the ban on entry of women into the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala violated a women’s right to practise religion.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge in the Supreme Court, was the only dissenting voice in the five-judge constitution bench which ruled on Friday that the ban on women between the ages of 10 to 50 years to enter the Sabarimala temple was unconstitutional.

Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra at the Supreme Court in New Delhi.(PTI)
Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra at the Supreme Court in New Delhi.(PTI)

She said that personal views of judges about religious practice were irrelevant grievances raised were non-justiciable.

“In a secular polity issues that are matters of deep religious faith must not be interfered with by courts,” Justice Malhotra said. “The right to practice is a fundamental right.. religious practises are protected.”

While two other judges said Article 25 of the Constitution protects the equal entitlement on all persons to freely practice religion, Justice Malhotra said, “Article 25 protects essential practice.”

She also underlined that courts normally do not interfere with religious practices

“Equality in matters of religion must be viewed in the context of the worshippers of the same faith. It is not for the court to determine which practices of faith are to be struck down except when they are evil, for example sati,” Justice Malhotra said.

She said that the issue of what constitutes is an essential practice is for religious committees to decide.

Read | SC says women of all ages can enter Sabarimala temple: What is the controversy about

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