- Women who are of age to menstruate are restricted from entering temple
- Supreme Court said right of a woman to pray is a constitutional right
- Every woman is also the creation of god, the court said
The right of a woman to pray is a constitutional right and does not depend on laws, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a bunch of petitions that challenge the traditional ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the famous Sabarimala temple. Women who are of an age to menstruate, are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.
The temple board has even made it mandatory for women to provide age proof before they are allowed in.
"Every woman is also the creation of God and why should there be discrimination against them in employment or worship," said Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge Constitution bench hearing the case.
"All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion... This means your right as a woman to pray is not dependent on a legislation. It is your constitutional right," the judge said.
In October last year, the top court referred the issue to the Constitution bench, framing five "significant" questions, the chief is which is whether the ban amounts to discrimination against women and violates their Constitutional rights. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, also has Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, and Indu Malhotra.
Today, state minister K Surendran said women should be allowed to offer prayers at Sabarimala, voicing the longstanding stance of the state's ruling CPM. "You are changing your stand again. This is the fourth time," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, referring to the stands taken by the earlier governments.
The age notification, Justice Nariman said, is "arbitrary" as it "leaves out the 9-year-old girl and 53-year-old woman who are menstruating.