Gender activists and others waiting for today's Supreme Court judgment on the entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple were slightly disappointed today after the court refused to rule one way or the other, instead referring the matter to a constitutional bench.
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 Kerala government informed the court that women of all ages should be allowed entry and worship at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple without any restriction.
The women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple.
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The earlier UDF government's affidavit before the Supreme Court had supported the temple's tradition that the deity's form is that of a Naisthak Bramhachari who observes celibacy and therefore, young women should not worship in the temple.
The case in this regard is going on since 2016 when a petitioner filed a plea against ban on entry of menstruating women in the Kerala temple. According to him, banning entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hindu religion.
It was expected that the apex court is likely to announce the verdict today on whether women can enter the Sabarimala Temple. Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country.
The Supreme Court has, in the past, termed illegal traditional and religious practices that violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution. And if they are within the authority of the Act, are they constitutional - particularly, Rule 3 (b), which talks about the entry of women and girls. It violates the rights of women. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations..."
The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.