Women aged around 10 to 50 are not allowed entry to Sabarimala temple.
Women of all ages can enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, the Supreme Court ruled today, ending an age-old ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years. "The practice of age restriction on women entry to Sabrimala temple can't be treated as an essential religious practice," said the court in a majority four-one judgement. The only judge who dissented on the five-judge constitution bench was Justice Indu Malhotra. Women said to be of menstrual age are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Misra had reserved its judgement on a bunch of petitions that challenge the ban on entry of women on August 1 after hearing the case for eight days. The other judges on the bench are Justices R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
Here are the LIVE updates on Sabarimala temple verdict on women entry:
Sabarimala Verdict: Sabarimala Temple Open To Women Of All Ages, Says Supreme Court: 10 Facts
Women of all ages must be allowed in Kerala's renowned Sabarimala temple, the Supreme Court ordered today, ending a ban that prevented women and girls between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine that draws millions of pilgrims every year. "Restrictions can't be treated as essential religious practice," the top court said in a majority four-one judgement, calling the custom "almost like untouchability". The only woman on the five-judge constitution bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, dissented, saying the court should not interfere in religious practices."
Former head of Travancore Devaswom Board declared that his family would not follow the order. "I am unhappy... A constitutional authority cannot interfere in religious matters," said Prayar Gopalakrishnan, a former chief of the Travancore Devaswom Board that controls the Sabarimala temple.
He was controversial for saying once that women could be allowed only when a machine was invented to scan if it is the "right time" -- meaning, they are not menstruating.
Sabarimala Verdict Progressive: Congress
The Congress on Friday described the Supreme Court's verdict to open the gates of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala to women of all ages as "progressive" and said that there could be no discrimination to worship on the basis of gender."
I welcome the decision. Now women can choose if they want to go or not. Earlier it was imposed on them in name of religion. When right to equality and religion are there, right to equality should win: Women Panel Chief Rekha Sharma
We will go for a review petition after getting support from other religious heads: Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar
Majority: CJI Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar, Nariman, Chandrachud
Dissenting: Justice Indu Malhotra
Notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion: Justice Indu Malhotra
- What constitutes essential religious practice is for the relgious community to decide, not for the court
- Notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion
- Balance needs to be struck between religious beliefs on one hand and cherished principles of non-discrimination and equality laid down by Constitution on the other
Disappointed but will accept Supreme Court verdict: Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru
Court shouldn't interfere with religious faiths: Justice Indu Malhotra
- The issues have far reaching effect all over
- Court shouldn't interfere with religious faiths
- If a person has faith on certain deity it has to be respected
- Religious practices are protected under the constitution
- Religious customs can be tested on the basis of Article 14
- It is not for the court to determine to strike down customs
- This issue what constitutes essential practices for the religious community
- Personal views of judges are irrelevant
To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality: Justice Chandrachud
- Article 25 protects all persons, it means every individual in the society.
- Religion cannot be cover to deny women right to worship.
- To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality
- In earlier days prohibition was because of nature and the notion of women are weaker sex
- To exclude women is derogatory
- Impose man Celibacy on women is to deny women rights and constitution doesn't recognise such rights
- Keeping women out of the temple on the basis of mensuration is against their dignity
- Devotees of Ayyappa not a separate sect
- Social exclusion of women on mensuration is untouchability and is anathema to the Constitution
Now Justice Chandrachud begins judgement.
Devotees of Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination: Chief Justice Misra
- The law and society are tasked with the task to act as levellers
- Rule 3(b) of 1965 Rules is a clear violation of right of Hindu women to practice religion under Article 25
- The bar on entry of women between age of 10 and 50 years is not an essential part of the religion
"Women equally entitles to enter temple": Justice RF Nariman
- The practice of age restriction on women entry to Sabrimala temple can't be treated as an essential religious practice
- This is in a Majority
- The only woman judge in the bench, Indu Malhotra, is dissenting
Justice RF Nariman reading the judgment now
Supreme Court lifts ban on women restriction of entry into the temple
Justice Indu Malhotra is dissenting with Chief Justice Misra.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra has begun reading out the judgement. He sais there are four views in the matter.
Judges arrive in court no 1 for judgement.
The Kerala government has changed its stand thrice in the case. Starting 2006, when the case was first taken to court, the then LDF government had chosen not to oppose the petition.
Subsequently, when the matter had come up for hearing in January 2016, the UDF government at the time re-considered the earlier stance and filed an affidavit supporting the ban.
In 2016, the Pinarayi Vijayan government, which came to power in the state, said it will stand by the stance of the UDF government and support the ban on women. However, it later told the court that it is ready to allow women, irrespective of their age, inside the temple.
The Sabarimala case has a total of 24 respondents, including chief secretary of Kerala, Travancore Devaswom Board, chief thantri of Sabarimala Temple, Nair Service Society, Sabarimala Custom Protection Forum, and Rahul Easwar.
Will file review petition if verdict not in our favour: Social Activist
Social activist Rahul Easwar said that the Supreme Court judgement will be "historic", either way it goes, as it will have implications on how religious institutions will work.
"We are fighting to save Article 25 and also the basis of temples. If unfortunately the verdict goes against us we have already arranged and we are thinking of giving a review petition," he was quoted by news agency ANI.
Trupti Desai, chief of Bhumata Brigade, said she was confident the judgement will be ruled in their favour. "Our country works as per Constitution and not on the diktat of some trust. This fight is for our rights and we will win it. There is need to change old thoughts and give a new beginning," she said.
The argument presented at the court is that lord Ayyappa is a "Naishtikka Brahmachari", a virtue upholded by Sabarimala temple in particular - in contrast to other Ayyappa temples.
The verdict is expected around 10.30 am. Four judgments will be delivered today. Justice Khanwilkar will concur with one of the other judges. The verdict is likely to have an impact on temples across Kerala, and their traditions.
The Kerala government has been changing its stand on the contentious issue. In July, it told the Supreme Court that it now favoured their entry.
The top court had questioned the rationale behind banning the entry of women in the 10-50 age group into the temple in Kerala, saying menstruation may begin before the age of 10 and menopause may hit women much earlier.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who is heading the bench, will retire on October 2.
Last year, a 31-year-old woman made a failed attempt to enter the temple. The woman, a resident of West Godavari district in Telangana, was picked up from 'sannidhanam', the temple complex.
The entry of women is strictly monitored by police at Pampa before they begin to trek Sabarimala to reach the shrine.
Lakhs of devotees throng the Sabarimala temple during the annual pilgrim season.
The Sabarimala temple board had even argued that women are restricted from entering the temple as they "can't do" the tough 41-day penance.
The Sabarimala temple is run by the Travancore Devaswom Board. During hearings, the board had told the court that the ban is not anti-women and is voluntarily accepted by them. But the top court underlined that the all customary or religious practices such as a ban on entry of women had to conform to constitutional principles.
The Bench has already remarked during the court hearings that a ban on entry of women at the Sabarimala temple is steeped in patriarchy and chauvinism.
If the ban is lifted, the case would be a precedent for future challenges against similar prohibitory practices in places of worship across religions.
The constitution bench comprises Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The top court had on October 13 last year referred the issue to a constitution bench after framing five "significant" questions including whether the practice of banning entry of women into the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights under the Constitution.
The Kerala government, which has been changing its stand on the contentious issue, had told the Supreme Court in July that it now favoured their entry.