Supreme Court refers Sabarimala case to constitution bench

Sabarimala temple case Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

As the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on ban on women's entry into Kerala's Sabarimala Temple, women right activist on Friday expressed hope for a positive and landmark judgment in the matter.

The Supreme Court had in July 2016 indicated that it may refer the question - whether the constitutional right to equality of a woman could be raised to "interfere" with the religious beliefs and customs denying entry to women in Sabarimala temple - to its constitution bench.

The court of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan has made this decision.

The questions include whether the existing practice of exclusion of women between 10-50 years age by the temple was permissible and whether biological factors were ground enough for excluding women from entering the temple. In November previous year, after the Left government took charge in Kerala, there was a U-turn by the state government from its earlier stance and the affidavit stated that it was ready to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.

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In January 2016, the Supreme Court had challenged the ban saying that restriction on women from entering the temple can not be done under the Constitution and in February 2017, it reserved its order. The Kerala High Court had upheld the custom in 1991.

The temple's restriction on menstruating women has been a bone of contention in recent times, raising legal questions about women's right to pray and right to equality, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees that the state can not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of the law. It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

LDF govt in 2007 filed an affidavit, saying it favoured entry of women in the temple. Meanwhile, the apex court had asked all the parties to submit their submissions.

"A temple is a public religious place". It recently held that the practice of divorcing a woman by chanting "talaq, talaq, talaq" was illegal as it violated Muslim women's fundamental rights. After hearing petitions challenging the ban for quite some time now, the apex court is likely to announce its verdict today. I am hoping that tomorrow entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive.

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