Centre to ascertain its stand over entry of women to Sabarimala

Devotees throng to witness Lord Ayyappa at Sannidanam in Sabarimala, Kerala. (Photo: PTI)
Reacting cautiously, Law Minister Sadananda Gowda today said that the Centre is ascertaining the stand it needs to take in a case being considered by the Supreme Court on entry of the women in menstrual age group in the ancient Sabarimala temple of Kerala.

"Since we are being a party (to the case), we are just trying to find out what stand we need to take. As a Minister of Law and Justice, I should not give my personal opinion... till I hold this position as a minister," he told reporters here to a volley of questions on the Centre's stand on the issue.

Gowda said he was in the process of discussions with his senior law officers on the issue. "...I have to collect so many materials, then only I can go ahead," he said.

When pointed out that the question of "gender inequality" prevails in the case, he said, "I don't think so."

"Because see in various temples, churches, masjids, there are various restrictions and various rituals that are being performed since time immemorial.

"But here, as far as the present petition is concerned, they said the fundamental rights are being violated. For that reason it has to be widely argued and all these areas need to be covered. So now we are collecting all materials from various corners and we will place our arguments after collecting all the materials," Gowda said.

He said until the verdict comes out, he was not in a position to say anything on the matter. "We have to wait and see," the Minister said.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had questioned the age-old tradition of banning entry of women in the menstrual age group in the holy hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, saying it cannot be done under the Constitution.

"The temple cannot prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry. Anyway, we will examine it on February 8," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana had said.

The bench said this while hearing a PIL filed by Young Lawyers Association, seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow women to enter the premises after attaining puberty.

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