Everyone can enter the Temple: CJI observes in Sabarimala Temple case

Why are women prohibited from entering Sabarimala Temple?

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Sabarimala Temple | Photo: Shutterstock

Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed in the shrine. It is believed that this is because the presiding diety, Ayyappa is celibate. The Temple’s management say that women of menstruating age can’t be allowed on account of ‘purity’. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the historic temple, had earlier in January made it mandatory for women to carry documents to verify their age in a bid to restrict entry of women aged between 10 years and 50 years.

Case referred to the Constitutional bench by the Supreme court

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Supreme Court of India | Photo: Shutterstock

The Supreme Court last year had referred the case to the Constitutional bench. The bench is headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and also includes Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, and Indu Malhotra. The court has framed five questions for the bench to address, out of which the main question is whether the ban amounts to discrimination against women and violates their Constitutional rights.

Constitutional bench observation on the case

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A pilgrim walks through the facade of Sabarimala temple | Photo: Shutterstock

The Constitutional bench on Wednesday observed that everyone can enter Sabarimala Temple regardless of their sex. The bench stated that "a woman's right to pray was not dependent on any law but is a Constitutional right" and that "what applies to a man applies to a woman as well." Chief Justice Dipak Misra, while hearing the matter observed, “On what basis you (temple authorities) deny the entry. It is against the Constitutional mandate. Once you open it for public, anybody can go.”

Kerala government’s U-Turn

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Pilgrims gather at Sabarimala temple.| Photo: Shutterstock

Kerala government’s position regarding the case has changed multiple times in support and against the ban on allowing women to enter the Sabarimala temple.  “Are you changing your stand again? This is the fourth time you have done so,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra told senior advocate Mr Jaideep Gupta who is representing the government in the case. Presently the Kerala government is supporting the cause for women 

Some facts about Sabarimala Temple

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Pilgrims walk through the forest to Sabarimala temple.| Photo- Shutterstock

The temple at Sabarimala is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world. Around 50 million devotees visit the pilgrimage every year. Sabarimala is generally believed to be the place where Ayappa meditated after killing the powerful demon, Mahishi. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 1260 m (4,133 ft) above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests.

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