Supreme Court allows women entry into Sabarimala temple

Hindu pilgrims queue outside the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers

CJI Dipak Mishra and Justice A M Khanwilkar gave one judgement. It will be interesting to see how women believers react.

The top court revoked restrictions on women entering the temple following a 20-year legal battle, ruling that patriarchy can not be allowed to trump faith. Justice Nariman said the Sabarimala temple custom barring women of 10-50 age is not backed by Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution. "The ban says presence of women deviates from celibacy". "The fact that women have a physiological feature of menstruating has nothing to do with her right to pray", he said.

Differing with the majority view, she said in a secular polity, Courts must not ordinarily interfere with issues, which are matters of deep religious faith and sentiment. "Restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can't be held as essential religious practice".

'Prohibiting women (from entering the temple) violates the right of a woman to worship and practise religion, ' he said. "We feel that the petition will be answered positively".

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

Sabarimala Ayyappa temple's website explains that since Lord Ayyappa was "Nithya Brahmachari" - or celibate - women in the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter.

Desai told PTI that the SC order was a victory for women's constitutional rights and a setback for the patriarchal mentality and high-handedness of the temple trustees which had refused entry to women there.

On February 20, 2017, the Court expressed its inclination to refer the case to a Constitution Bench.


"I welcome the decision to allow admission to women of all ages at the Sabarimala temple by the Supreme Court".

India's Supreme Court has overturned a decades-old ban by religious authorities that forbid women from entering one of the holiest Hindu temples in the country.

"The right to enter a temple is not dependent on a legislation". She was quoted by ANI, "Religious practices can't exclusively be tested on the basis of the right to equality".

The Court had reserved its verdict in the matter on August 8 after hearing it for eight days.

The head of the temple had said earlier he would consider allowing women to enter if there was a machine to check if they were menstruating.

Dissenting judge Malhotra said the notions of rationality and logic can not be imported for religious practices and with regards to the concept of discrimination, equality can not be viewed in isolation as it needs to be balanced with the freedom to practice religion.

During the course of the hearing, CJI Misra had pointed out that since the Sabarimala temple drew funds from the Consolidated Fund, and had people coming from all over the world, it was qualified to be called a "public place of worship".

The party was conspicuously silent on Friday after the court struck down the ban: a reticence which contrasted starkly with the enthusiastic welcome it accorded to the other pronouncements of the apex court namely the verdict of rejecting SIT probe in the case of the 5 activists with alleged Maoist links and the Ayodhya verdict.

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