The Supreme Court Monday sought to examine previous judgments on entry of women in religious places while underlining that any religious practice banning their entry will have to necessarily pass the test of constitutionality.
Hearing a plea against restricting women’s entry in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra questioned the temple’s right in imposing the prohibition on a particular gender.
“What right does temple have to forbid women from entering any part of temple? Please argue on the bedrock of the Constitution. Every argument has to meet the test of constitutionality,” observed the bench.
“Can you deny a woman her right to climb the Mount Everest? The reasons banning anything must be common for all,” said the court, adding: “Anyone can worship a God or Goddess. You have structured God into an idol although he is omnipresent. Can you say don’t come because you are a woman? The ground in this case is that gender justice is in danger.”
The court added that it would wish to examine the judgments on the pertinent subject. “Can we constitutionally reconcile with the idea that women cannot be allowed in sanctum sanctorum? We would like to see previous judgments which uphold ban on entry of women in any temple,” said the bench, as it adjourned the matter for hearing on Wednesday.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by ‘Indian Young Lawyers’ Association’ seeking entry of women in Sabarimala temple. The hearing came close on the heels of the Bombay High Court order directing Maharashtra government to ensure that women are not denied entry at any temple.
Defending the ban, the Sabarimala’s temple administration has said the tradition is connected to essential religious practice. Supporting them, Kerala government has told the court that beliefs and customs of devotees cannot be changed through a judicial process and that “the opinion of the priests is final” in matters of religion.