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Sabarimala temple verdict: A chronology of events

The practice had been in place for centuries.

Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in Kerala. (File)

The following is the chronology of events in which the Supreme Court Friday paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. In a 4-1 majority, the apex court struck down provisions of The Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 that banned women between the age of 10 and 50 from the temple. The practice had been in place for centuries.

1990: S Mahendran files plea in Kerala High Court seeking ban on women’s entry to the temple.

April 5, 1991: Kerala High Court upholds the age-old restriction on women of a certain age-group entering the temple.

August 4, 2006: Indian Young Lawyers Association files plea in Supreme Court seeking to ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10 to 50 at the Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabarimala.

November 2007: LDF government of Kerala files affidavit supporting PIL questioning ban on women’s entry.

January 11, 2016: Two-judge bench of Supreme Court questions practice banning entry of women at the temple.

February 6: Congress-led UDF government takes U-turn, tells Supreme Court it is duty bound to “protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees”.

April 11: Supreme Court says gender justice endangered by a ban on women.

April 13: Supreme Court says tradition cannot justify a ban on women’s entry.

April 21: Hind Navotthana Pratishtan and Narayanashrama Tapovanam files plea in Supreme Court supporting entry of women.

November 7: LDF government files a fresh affidavit in Supreme Court saying it favoured the entry of women of all age groups.

October 13, 2017: Supreme Court refers the case to Constitution bench.

October 27: Plea filed in Supreme Court for gender-equal bench to hear the case.

July 17, 2018: Five-judge Constitution bench starts hearing the matter.

July 19: Supreme Court says women have a fundamental right to enter the temple and questioned the rationale behind the age group.

July 24: Supreme Court made it clear that the ban on entry of women would be tested on “constitutional ethos”.

July 25: Nair Service Society tells Supreme Court the celibate nature of Sabarimala temple’s presiding deity Lord Ayyappa is protected by the Constitution.

July 26: Supreme Court observes it can’t remain oblivious to ban on entry of women as they were barred on “physiological ground” of menstruation.

July 31: Supreme Court says constitutional scheme prohibiting exclusion has “some value” in a “vibrant democracy”.

August 1: Supreme Court reserves verdict.

September 28: Supreme Court, in 4:1 verdict, allows entry of women in Sabarimala temple, says banning females’ entry into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women.

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