Supreme Court on Sabarimala Case: Can’t remain oblivious to ban on entry of women into temple

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A five judge’s bench headed by Deepak Mishra and comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Khanmilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra on 2 August 2018 observed that notwithstanding with the submission that the Lord Ayyappa of the Sabarimala temple has a ‘’celibate character’’, and the temple cannot remain unknown of the fact that women between the age of 10-50 years are barred from entering the temple on the basis of physiological ground of mensuration.

The Contentions

The Advocate Sai Deepak appearing for the ‘’Dharma” and the NGO “Chetan” that Lord Ayyappa being a “Jurist” person has all the rights to preserve his celibate character and the bench said that we cannot be ignorant of the fact that women between age of 10-50 years were barred to enter the temple and also stated that it was not correct to say that age restriction on the entry of women in the Sabarimala shrine is a result of Patriarchy.

While hearing Indian Young Lawyer’s Association and others who were challenging the ban of the practice of Sabarimala shrine of restricting the entry of the women between the ages of 10-50 years. Justice Chandrachud said that the question here is whether the constitution overrides all the other aspects and if this is true, no one can stop the entry of the women from entering the temple.

Lawyer Sai Deepak also stated that “Sabarimala” is a juristic person as for the purpose of property and paying taxes, Sabarimala equally has the right under article 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution and the God and Goddess in a polytheistic religion has the right to remain an eternal celibate and this also can constitute the part of the right to privacy of the deity and the lawyer also stated that this is not the temple versus women or men versus women, women have been respecting the tradition for the longest period of time . He also stated that the temple is not funded by the state or it consolidates funds which do not dilute the separate denominational rights, and if the court strikes down these rules then it would also amount to striking down the custom itself.

Advocate Sai Deepak also contended that the bar on a specific class of women aged between 10-50 years is not because of the question of purity or impurity but depending on the fact that the nature of the God or Goddess celibate nature.

Decision/ Orders

The bench said that there is an urgent need to find a point of equilibrium between the individual right and the rights of a specific denomination.

Senior Advocate V. Giri appearing for the head priest of the temple also said that the celibate character of the deity cannot be challenged by those who wish to pray and belief of the devotee should be in sync with the deity.

The arguments will continue tomorrow.

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