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Can women enter Sabarimala temple? 5-judge Constitution Bench to decide

13 October 2017

A 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Friday referred the case pertaining to women's entry into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala to a constitution bench.

In January 2016, the Supreme Court had questioned the ban and said that this can not be done under the Constitution, following which, in February, the top court reserved an order on referring the case to a constitution bench.

Earlier, the top court had said that refusing entry to women to a public religious place is a violation of their rights.

The petitioners in the case include women's organisations, Ayyappa groups, State of Kerala and the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple, situated in Pathanamthitta district.

In January 2016, the Supreme Court had questioned the age-old tradition saying it can not be done under the Constitution. "Anyway, we will examine it on February 8", a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana had said.

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They framed several questions to be dealt with by the Constitution Bench, including whether the temple can restrict women's entry.

The case of entry of women of menstruating age to the Sabarimala shrine has seen a prolonged legal journey of over a decade.

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. Meanwhile, the apex court had asked all the parties to submit their submissions. Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry.

Another women's rights activist is also hoping that the SC rules in the favour of the women as India is a secular country. We understand the seriousness of issue. After hearing petitions challenging the ban for quite some time now, the apex court is likely to announce its verdict today.

In 2014, the Congress-led government said there was a "mistake" in its own submissions to court earlier and that women can not be permitted in the temple because of the deity's celibacy vows. I am hoping that tomorrow also the entry of women in Sabarimala would be positive. "I am sure the judgment will also be very positive and landmark", she was quoted as saying.

Can women enter Sabarimala temple? 5-judge Constitution Bench to decide