The Supreme Court Friday questioned the practice of banning women from Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, and wondered if man-made customs can prescribe such prohibition when “the God does not discriminate between men and women”.
A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra said it would examine the issue of ban on entry of women of menstrual age in the temple on “constitutional parameters”, and adjudge whether this practice was “intricately fundamental” to religious customs and hence cannot be interfered with.
“The God does not discriminate between men and women, so why should there be gender discrimination in the premises of the temple,” observed the bench as it quoted from a mythological story about Sati Anusuya, who had turned Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh into children.
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“How can you stop the mother from entering the temple?” it asked, adding that neither the Vedas nor Upanishads discriminated on the basis of gender.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board, sought six weeks for filing evidence, including documents and ancient scriptures, on the issue, and said the practice of prohibiting women of menstrual age in Sabarimala was being followed for centuries.
The bench also termed Kerala government’s recent stand a “somersault.” The state government, in its latest affidavit, has said the prohibition of women is a matter of religion and it is duty-bound to “protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees”. But in its previous affidavit, it had supported a PIL seeking women’s entry in Sabarimala.
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