Supreme Court refers Sabarimala case to constitution bench

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Earlier this year in February, the apex court reserved an order while referring the case to a Constitution bench.

As was usual for Buddhist monasteries in the middle ages, women were not allowed admission to a place inhabited exclusively by celibate monks.

In January 2016, the Supreme Court had questioned the age-old tradition saying it can not be done under the Constitution. I am hoping that tomorrow also the entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive.

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.

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to its constitution bench the matter pertaining to a ban on the entry of women at Kerala's Sabarimala temple.

They framed several questions to be dealt with by the Constitution Bench, including whether the temple can restrict women's entry.

"Such practices that exclude women from practising their freedom of religion need to be tested against the fundamental rights of the country", Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra while announcing the observation commented. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ...

Noting that this is not the first time that the Kerala government has changed its stand, the court asked the state to "unequivocally clarify its position".

The management of the temple had stated that ban on entry of women was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.

Senior counsel KK Venugopal appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple had suggested that the case be referred to a constitutional bench. These included whether the restriction is a "permissible practice"; whether the Ayyappa devotees visiting Sabarimala form a religious denomination; who is the competent authority to decide on whether the restriction comes within the ambit of "custom"; and, finally, whether such a "custom" comes under the constitutional principles. The discrimination, if any, in the shrine was not between men and women but between women and women. He argued that the matter had already been settled by the HC and so the principle of res judicata would apply.