SC allows entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple

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The bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had earlier said that the constitutional scheme prohibiting exclusion has "some value" in a "vibrant democracy".

Four judges supported the lifting of ban whereas Justice Indu Malhotra proposed a dissenting opinion supporting the ban. It will be interesting to see how women believers react.

Stating that society needs to undergo a perceptual shift, Misra said "patriarchy in religion can not be permitted to trump over element of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one's religion". "Biological or physiological reasons can not be accepted in freedom for faith", the Chief Justice said.

The entry into Sabarimala of women of menstrual age has always been a topic of controversy.

"To treat women as the children of a lesser God is to blink at the Constitution", Justice DY Chandrachud said, while pronouncing the judgment. The Court in 4:1 Majority went on to say that the Shrine should welcome Women of all ages. "Restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can't be held as essential religious practice".

Holding the Sabarimala temple is not a denominational temple peculiar to any sect, the court said that the Ayyappa temple belongs to Hindus and does not constitute a separate entity.

"We are going for a review petition by the first week of October".

He further observes that the ideology of "purity and pollution" is a violation of the constitutional right against "untouchability".

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala - the subject of Friday's ruling and considered one of the holiest for Hindus - has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age, between 10 and 50.

Of course, the aggrieved persons in the case were Hindu women.

CJI Misra added, "Women no way inferior to men". And since the Supreme Court is also the custodian of the Constitution, it would be ignoring two of its most important duties if it let religion dictate rights. "Religious practices can not exclusively be tested on the basis of the right to equality".

The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgment tomorrow in the case relating to the ban on entry of women in Sabarimala temple.

India's Supreme Court has ruled that one of the country's holiest Hindu temples must open its doors to women. "Any rule based on biological characteristics can not pass muster of Constitutional test", CJI Misra said.

The Court had reserved its verdict in the matter on August 8 after hearing it for eight days. P. Ramavarma Raja said that as staunch believers in the rule of law, the palace would work for combined efforts by all stakeholders, mainly the devotees, to find a peaceful solution to the issue.

Jaising had argued that the custom is discriminatory in nature and that it stigmatised women.

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