New Delhi: A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court (SC) will examine the matter of allowing women in the 10-50 age group to the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta.
A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra, on Friday, decided to refer the matter to the Constitution bench.
The SC framed a set of questions, including whether the temple can restrict women's entry, for the 5-judge Constitution bench to examine. They have been asked to examine whether the fundamental rights of women are being infringed on because of this tradition.
The Constitution bench would also examine whether the ban was violative of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Act that authorized entry of all women in the temple.
'Kerala govt welcomes SC order'
Kerala devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran welcomed the SC order. "There should not be any gender bias in temple entry. The LDF government stands by the affidavit which we had filed in 2007. If required, we will submit the files regarding the Sabarimala case," he said. In 2008, the then LDF government had submitted an affidavit favoring the entry of women belonging to all age groups. Later, in 2016, the UDF government submitted an affidavit, opposing the entry of women.
The Supreme Court had on February 12, questioned the practice of banning women in the said age group and asked if man-made customs can prescribe such prohibition when 'God does not discriminate between men and women.'
There are restrictions on the entry of women at the hillock shrine, where the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered as a 'naishtika brahmachari' (perennial celibate) by devotees.
(With inputs from PTI)