A 5-judge Constitutional Bench will decide whether the women’s fundamental right to pray at the place of their preference can be overruled on the ground of religious belief “biological factor exclusive to the female gender”. The matter was a referred to this bench by Supreme Court of India.
The matter was referred by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Banumathi. The Bench raised the question of excluding such women comprise an “essential religious practice.
Now, the 5-judges bench will examine the age-old practice in famous Sabarimala temple of restricting entry for women aged between 10 to 50 years.
It means to control the entry of women from the menstruating age.
And if so, does this amount to discrimination and breach of the fundamental rights to gender justice and equality.
However, the temple authorities have justified the banned entry by saying it is a practice founded in tradition. It means women are restrictted from even making the arduous walk to the shrine.
What is the matter?
The restriction finds its basis in the legend that the Sabarimala temple deity “Swami Ayyappa” is a 'Naishtika Brahmachari' and therefor should not be disturbed.
The Kerala High Court in 1991 ruled that restriction forced on women devotees was in place since time immemorial and not discriminatory to the Constitution.
The royal family Pandalas and several Ayyappa groups also objected the entry of women in restricted age group and said that the deity was not “interested” in women devotees.