Ban on womens entry in Sabarimala: SC refers to consti bench

Sabarimala temple case Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

The Constitution Bench will now be looking into several women rights claims regarding the matter, especially the women's fundamental right of freedom to pray at their place of choice.

Speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, Gopalakrishnan said that there are going to be huge security issues if all women are allowed entry. "Even if the court approves of the decision to allow entry, no devout and decent woman in this age group is going to come.", said Gopalakrishnan, a former Congress legislator.

The court was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the ban on women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple.

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution.

Article 14 guarantees right to equality, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 17 abolishes untouchability and forbids it practice.

Among the questions referred to the bench include the question of whether or not any group of people - women in this case - can be prevented from entering a Hindu place of worship according to current laws.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal appearing for the Travancore Davaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala temple, had requested the bench to the matter to a constitution bench.

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

The earlier UDF government's affidavit before the Supreme Court had supported the temple's tradition that the deity's form is that of a Naisthak Bramhachari who observes celibacy and therefore, young women should not worship in the temple.

Welcoming the apex court's move, women rights organisations hoped that the Constitution bench would give women equal rights.

He said that there was nothing personal in his comment adding that both safety and rituals are equally important.

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