The Supreme Court Friday allowed women of all ages in the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict, said banning the entry of women in Sabarimala temple is gender discrimination and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women.
While Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud concurred with the CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting verdict.
Justice Malhotra, the only woman on the bench, said that the petition does not deserve to be entertained. She was of the view that it is not for courts to determine which religious practices are to be struck down except in issues of social evil like ‘Sati’.
READ HIGHLIGHTS | Top court lifts ban, women of all ages can enter temple
Adding that the issue is critical to various religions, she said, “Issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court. The Sabarimala shrine and the deity is protected by Article 25 of the Constitution of India and the religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of Article 14.”
“Notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion,” said Justice Malhotra, adding: “What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court. India is a diverse country. Constitutional morality would allow all to practise their beliefs. The court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion.”
“Present judgment won’t be limited to Sabarimala, it will have wide ramifications. Issues of deep religious sentiments shouldn’t be ordinarily interfered into,” said Justice Malhotra further.
She also said that “Religious practices can’t solely be tested on the basis of the right to equality. It’s up to the worshippers, not the court to decide what’s religion’s essential practice.”
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