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SC refers Sabarimala Temple Case to Constitution bench

SC refers Sabarimala Temple Case 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.

The apex court, in February, had reserved its order on referring the case to a constitution bench.

Now, in its 31-page order, the SC has laid down certain questions, that it feels needs to be considered by the larger Constitutional Bench.

The Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of the ban on entry of women by the management of the Sabarimala temple.

The petition was filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association, challenging the custom of the temple to bar entry of women in the 10-50 age bracket (of menstruating age).The custom had been termed as "discriminatory" in their petition.

As was usual for Buddhist monasteries in the middle ages, women were not allowed admission to a place inhabited exclusively by celibate monks.

The management of the temple had stated that ban on entry of women was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.

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"The government's stance is that there should be no gender discrimination with regards to entry in temples, and wold strongly stand with that opinion". It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

The bench comprised of Dipak Misra, R Banumathi, and Ashok Bhushan had earlier requested to submit the things that need to be presented at the Constitution Bench. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism.

The apex court also framed a question about whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution. Being a temple with unique customs and practices, Sabarimala should be allowed to retain its ethnic character, " said TDB member Ajay Tharayil.

It is also to be decided whether Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship Act violates Article 14.

The temple authorities have justified the restriction ladies within the 10-50 age group, saying it is a firm practice established in convention.

"A temple is a public religious place".


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