A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court will deliver its judgement in a while on the legality of prohibiting women between the ages of ten and fifty from entering the temple due to impurity. The five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra is examining the legality of a provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises the restriction, according to an Indian Express report. The Bench, which also comprises Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had reserved its verdict in the case of August 2, 2017.
As per the report, four judgements will be delivered today, while Justice Khanwilkar will concur with one of the other judges. The CJI has said that Justice Malhotra has written a dissenting verdict. A batch of petitions has challenged the ban, which was upheld by the Kerala High Court and ruled that only the ‘Tantri’ (priest) was empowered to decide on traditions. The petitioners, including Indian Young Lawyers Association and Happy to Bleed, argued in court that the tradition is discriminatory in nature and stigmatised women, and that women should be allowed to pray at the place of their choice, noted the report.
Justice Chandrachud also said that not allowing the woman to enter because they are of procreating age is “derogatory” to them. “To exclude women of the age group 10-50 from the temple is to deny dignity to women. To suggest that women cannot undertake the 41-day vratham is to stereotype them,” he said.
Religion cannot be cover
Justice Chandrachud has begun reading his judgement. “Religion cannot be cover to deny women right to worship. To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality,” he said in the obseravtion.
Abiding SC Verdict
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the family of the Sabarimala Tantri, or head priest, said they will abide by the apex court’s ruling and will allow the women to enter the temple premises.
Fundamental Rights Essential
Justice Rohinton Nariman concurs with CJI Dipak Misra. “The custom of barring women is violative of Article 25(1). Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules,1965 struck down by Justice Nariman. Fundamental Rights under PART III of Constitution is essential for transformation of a society”
The Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, violate the right of Hindu women to practice religion, says CJI, Dipak Misra. The practice of age restrictions on women entry to Sabarimala temple cannot be treated as essential practice, he adds. CJI has written the judgment on behalf of himself and Justice Khanwilkar.
Do not constitute separate religious denomination
The CJI says Ayyappa devotees do no constitute a separate religious denomination. The TDB had argued in court that they should be allowed to make the rules as they form a denomination.
Patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump right to pray
The CJI says patriarchal rules have to change, and that patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump right to pray and practise religion. He adds that any rule based on biological characteristics cannot pass muster of constitutional test.
CJI begins verdict
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is delivering a verdict on behalf of himself and Justice Khanwilkar. Justices Nariman and Chandrachud are expected to concur with him. The CJI said Justice Indu Malhotra has written separate dissenting verdict.
The bench has assembled to pronounce the verdict in the case. Four judgments will be delivered today. Four judges have concurred, while Justice Malhotra will pronounce the dissenting verdict.