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Once you open a temple for public, anybody can go: SC on denying women entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court was hearing a plea whether prohibiting the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple on grounds of biological factors was discriminatory and violative of the Constitution.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2018 20:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sabarimala temple,Women's entry Sabarimala,Constitution
Devotees gather at the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta, Kerala.(PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said denying women entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala shrine was against the Constitutional mandate, reports news agency ANI.

A constitution bench -- comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra -- was hearing a plea whether prohibiting the entry of women in the temple on grounds of biological factors was discriminatory and violative of the Constitution.

“On what basis you (temple authorities) deny the entry. It is against the Constitutional mandate. Once you open it for public, anybody can go,” the Chief Justice observed.

The petitioner -- the Indian Young Lawyers Association -- has challenged the 800-year-old practice of prohibiting the entry of women into the famed Lord Ayyappan Temple.

The PIL has sought direction to the Kerala government, the Travancore Devaswom Board, Chief Thanthri (priest) of Sabarimala Temple and the District Magistrate of Pathanamthitta to ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10-50.

Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Ravi Prakash Gupta told the court the restrictions on the entry of women in Sabarimala temple is not the essence of their religious affairs as discrimination on the entry of women in the temple is “neither a ritual nor a ceremony associated with Hindu religion”.

Gupta said: “Mere sight of a woman does not affect anybody’s celibacy, if one has take oath of it, otherwise such oath has no meaning.”

Article 14 guarantees the right to equality, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 17 abolishes untouchability and forbids its practice.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 15:39 IST