Gender justice endangered by ban on women in Sabarimala: SC


New Delhi, April 12: Asserting that it would decide on the right of women to enter the historic Sabarimala shrine on the basis of constitutional principles and not by the prevalent customary practices, the Supreme Court today said “gender justice is endangered”.

“We will now only be guided by the rationale under the Constitution. The gravity of this petition is that gender justice is endangered,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.

“Can you deny a woman her right to climb the Mount Everest? The reasons banning anything must be common for all and on the bedrock of the Constitution,” the bench, also comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph, said.

The court was hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association (IYLA), seeking entry of women in the Sabarimala temple.

At the outset of the two-hour-long hearing, it asked the counsel, supporting the ban, about constitutional principles which support the restraining order of the temple board.

“We will like to understand as to what right they have to forbid a woman from entering the temple, a public place,” the bench said, visibly unimpressed with the arguments that the practice has been observed for centuries and much before the Constitution came into being.

The bench said it would examine the question as to whether a public religious place can pass such an order and “whether such a prohibition is permissible under the Constitution”.

The customary practices cannot override constitutional values, it said.

“Anyone can worship the God or Goddess structured into idols. I believe in God and want to bow my head, can you say, don’t come,” it asked the counsel representing the Devaswom Board.

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Referring to the prevalent Hindu protocol, the bench said the mother has to be greeted ahead of father, ‘Kul Guru’ (teacher of the clan) and ‘Kul Purohit’ (priest of the clan) and hence, women should not be prohibited from entering the temples.


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