SC refers Sabarimala temple's ban on women to Constitution Bench

Sabarimala board chief says letting women in will turn temple into ‘sex tourism’ spot

Sabarimala board chief says letting women in will turn temple into ‘sex tourism’ spot

The SC has referred the matter relating to bar on entry of women of 15-50 age group (menstruating age) in Sabarimala temple to a five-judge Constitution Bench on Friday.

Framing the questions for reference to the Constitution Bench, a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said, primarily, the Constitution Bench will decide whether the practice of ban on women is gender discriminatory, violates their right to equality, religious freedom.

Matters that related to fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of India are decided by specially empowered benches known as constitutional benches. The questions included whether the historic temple can restrict women's entry and whether the restriction of entry of women into the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution.

The Constitution Bench will deal with questions whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.

As per current practice, the temple doesn't allow entry to any woman who has attained puberty. After hearing petitions challenging the ban for quite some time now, the apex court is likely to announce its verdict today.

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"I hope it will allow women to enter the temple otherwise we can not say it is secular country".

The Sabarimala temple restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala - which means women are banned from even making the arduous trek to the shrine. The Kerala High Court had upheld the custom in 1991. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations", the report further added.

Senior counsel Jaideep Gupta had told the court that the Kerala government "supports the proposition that women of any age group should be permitted to enter the Sabarimala temple".

In 2007, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had taken a progressive stand by favouring women's entry into the temple, which was later overturned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation. 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).

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