Published: Fri, September 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Sabarimala Judgment by Supreme Court: Who Said What?

Sabarimala Judgment by Supreme Court: Who Said What?

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also comprising justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra was hearing the matter which had four opinions.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra reading out the judgment also on behalf of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said that subversion of women's rights under the garb of physiological phenomenon can not be allowed.

CJI Misra, Justice Khanwilakr and Justice Nariman were backed by Justice D Y Chandrachud.

The Supreme Court paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala.

The majority on the Bench agreed that Ayyappa devotees do not form a separate religious denomination. "Patriarchy and religion can not topple the power of devotion". SC said that practice of exclusion can not be regarded as essential religious practice, and this custom is not backed by Article 25 and 26 of the constitution, which are related to the right of freedom to practice any religion and religious practices.

"It's like telling women that if you want to exercise the right to religion, you have to give up the right to non-discrimination", said Indira Jaising, the lawyer who led the case against the temple's rules on women's entry.

'Religion is basically way of life however certain practices create incongruities.

While women have largely been demanding the removal of the archaic rule that prohibits their entry into the temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board has said that tradition and customs can not be broken.

The Judge held that there were strong, plausible reasons to show that Ayyappa devotees had attributes of a religious denomination.

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The respondents and intervenors had raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of PIL, pointing out that no woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa had approached the Court.

However, some women, on the other hand, have expressed their dissatisfaction over the verdict.

The LDF government, which was in power in Kerala when the petition was filed in 2006, had chosen not to oppose the petition and had filed an affidavit supporting the entry of women into the temple.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court said "What applies to a man, applies to a woman". Girls and women of menstruating age-10-50 years-were not allowed in the premises of the temple, which houses Lord Ayyappan.

Friday's verdict was welcomed by India's Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi and other prominent women's rights activists. "Prohibition can't be regarded as an essential component of religion", said the judges' ruling.

Justice Malhotra said notions of rationality can not be brought into matters of religion and India has diverse religious practices and constitutional morality would allow anyone to profess a religion they believe. She said that the court must not interfere with religious beliefs and that if a person has a belief in a deity, it must be respected. In rural pockets of the country, many women are still made to sleep and eat separately during menstruation.

The present judgment will not be limited to Sabarimala alone and it will have wide ramifications.

What is essential practise in a religion is for the religion to decide.

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