Age-old Practice, says Venugopal
New Delhi: The Supreme Court said the Constitution doesn’t allow gender discrimination and that it will go by constitutionalparameterswhiledeciding on the custom that bans women aged between 10 and 50 at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Primafacie,anysuchruleviolatesthe right to equality guaranteed to women under the Constitution, a bench of justices Dipak Misra, Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph said, while hearing a petition by the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association demanding entry of women to the temple. Traditions and custom cannot be allowed to trump the constitutional rights of women to enter temples to worship as they endan- ger gender justice, the court said.
The temple disallows women essentially in menstruating age in its precincts. The Kerala high court had earlier upheld the ban. While that wasn’t appealed against, the lawyers’ association filed a fresh plea at the top court. The temple authorities and the state are opposing the plea.
Appearing for the temple board, senior advocate KK Venugopal said this had been the practice for several centuries and it wasn’t a recent one. Arguing for the lawyers’ association, lawyer RP Gupta cited a recent Gujarat HC ruling overturning the Shani temple ban on women.