SC sends Sabarimala case to Constitutional Bench: 'Is prayer a fundamental right?'

Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala Temple

The Supreme Court today referred the matter pertaining to the ban on the entry of women into Kerala's famous Sabrimala temple to a five-judge constitution bench.

The apex court had reserved the order on referring the case to a constitution bench in February.

The apex Court also raised six questions on the issue to be considered by the Constitution bench, reports mentioned.

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.

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

In January 2016, the Supreme Court had questioned the age-old tradition saying it can not be done under the Constitution.

The temple prohibits entry of women who are in their menstruating years.

"A temple is a public religious place". It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

One of the questions by the apex court is also if restricting the entry of women violates their rights under the Constitution and amounted to discrimination against them.

The LDF government, which was in power in Kerala when the petition was filed in 2006, had chosen not to oppose the petition and had filed an affidavit supporting the entry of women into the temple. It had asked the parties to file written submissions that would fall under the Constitution.

Another women's rights activist is also hoping that the SC rules in the favour of the women as India is a secular country.

Commenting on matter, an activist said that since last couple of months, we have seen that the Supreme Court is bringing out several progressive and landmark judgments; we are hoping that ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive.

Despite this, Sabarimala remains different from many traditional temples as it never observed caste distinctions, even as most temples in Kerala restricted entry to those belonging to the four varnas of Vedic Hinduism.

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