The Kerala government on August 1, 2018 told the Supreme Court that the custom of barring the entry of women between the age group of 10 to 50 years into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala is not permissible under the Constitution.
The state government said that the celibate status of deity cannot be a ground for barring the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. The government argued that it is a Hindu temple and not a temple of a particular denomination.
SC on Sabarimala Case
After hearing a batch of pleas challenging the ban on the entry of women aged between 10-50 years into the 800-year-old Sabarimala shrine for eight days, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved its verdict on the matter.
The bench also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing on behalf of the Kerala government, stated that the custom of barring women between the age group of 10 to 50 years is not permissible under the Constitution.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing on behalf of the petitioners challenging the ban, argued that the court had always struck down laws, customs, practices or tradition which prevented Harijans from going to temple.
Similarly, even this case, the court can strike down such laws, practices or customs that deny women the right to enter temple", she said and added that if the court recognises a custom, then it will have the force of law.
Jaising said that this discrimination between men and women on allowing entry to temple is on the basis of sex and the court cannot avoid this question, as it has always struck down such discriminations. She argued that it is a case of discrimination on the basis of menstruation alone and it is like creating sub-classification even among women; it is not only discrimination between men and women but also between women and women.
The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by petitioners including Indian Young Lawyers Association and others challenging the ban on entry of women between 10-50 years age group in the Sabarimala temple.
The Kerala government, which has been changing its stand on the contentious issue, had told the apex court on July 18 that it favours the entry of women in the temple.
The apex court had referred the matter to a five-judge constitution bench in October 2017 after framing five significant questions including whether the practice of banning entry of women into the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights under the Constitution.
Who: Kerala Government