SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

In the dispute over the ban on women entering the famous Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, the country's most senior judges will examine whether "a biological factor like menstruation" can be grounds for discriminating against women.

Now with the SC referring the case to the Constitutional Bench, the verdict on the case might get further delayed.

The court raised six questions on the issue to be considered by the Constitution bench.

According to custom at this temple, where the deity is believed to be celibate, girls and women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed inside the temple.

The temple, situated in Pathanamthitta district, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple.

In January 2016, the Supreme Court had questioned the age-old tradition saying it can not be done under the Constitution.

Noting that this is not the first time that the Kerala government has changed its stand, the court asked the state to "unequivocally clarify its position". Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry.

"A temple is a public religious place".

"The temple can not prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion". The case has been listed for judgement under Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.

On November 7 a year ago, the Kerala Government has announced in the court the women of all ages are permitted inside the historic Sabarimala temple.

The question was whether women's right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 could be invoked in the face of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed under Article 25 and Freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under Article 26 of the constitution. This is the main reason for the dispute as women activists have questioned this as a clear practice of gender discrimination.

Women's rights activists have high hopes from the apex court. It violates the rights of women. "I am sure the judgment will also be very positive and landmark", she was quoted as saying.