Verdict On Ban On Women's Entry In Sabarimala Temple Today

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On Friday, the Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its landmark verdict on the entry of woman into Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.

While devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran welcomed the SC order with an expectation that the constitutional bench would uphold the state government's position, Travancore devaswom board (TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan demanded protection from constitutional bodies to belief and rituals.

The Constitution Bench will deal with questions whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.

Women's rights activists and lawyers from Kerala had challenged a Sabarimala temple rule which restricts the entry of women in their reproductive phase on the ostensible grounds that the deity was a bachelor.

The women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple.

Matters that related to fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of India are decided by specially empowered benches known as constitutional benches. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism.

The Travancore Dewaswom Board that manages Sabarimala Ayyappa temple justified the restriction on the entry of women on the grounds that the deity, Lord Ayyapa, is a "Naisthik Brahmachari" (celibate) and said that 1,000-year-old custom and religious practice can not be interfered with. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country.

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Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an "essential religious practice" under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion?

"A temple is a public religious place".

The apex court also framed a question about whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution.

That is, if the Sabarimala devotees are considered a separate denomination, then does this denomination have a right to ban the entry of women and girls?

The temple authorities have justified the restriction ladies within the 10-50 age group, saying it is a firm practice established in convention.

"I hope it will allow women to enter the temple otherwise we can not say it is secular country".

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