SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

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SC refers case on women's entry in Sabarimala shrine to Constitution bench

A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will decide whether Hindu women's right to equal access to temples and their fundamental right to worship can be overruled on the grounds of religious tradition.

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.

The Constitution Bench will deal with questions whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.

The court was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the ban on women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple.

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. In all other Ayyappa temples in Kerala, other parts of the country and overseas, women are allowed entry without any discrimination.

"The temple can not prohibit entry (of women), except on the basis of religion". Otherwise, we can not say it [India] is secular country.

Is this prohibition by the religious body valid under the purview of religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution? According to him, banning entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hindu religion.

The question that has been raised is: Does this ban on admission to the temple, on the basis of medical reasons of the woman violate the rights of equality? We understand the seriousness of issue. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations...", the apex court had said challenging the ban.

Meanwhile, women's rights activists are hoping for a positive judgment today.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the government's response on a plea seeking to firewall virtual games like Blue Whale which has allegedly led to several suicides. "I am sure the judgement will also be very positive and landmark", activist Brinda Adige was quoted as saying by Indian Today.

It is being asked: Can this practice in religious institutions be allowed to stop women? "The restriction will be removed hopefully", Ghosh told a leading news channel.

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