SC opens doors of Kerala’s Sabarimala temple to menstruating women

New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra on Friday pronounced that women will be allowed entry into Lord Ayyappa’s Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The top court allowed women to access the iconic shrine saying that the current ban violated Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution.

In the 27-year-old-case, the verdict was due on whether women aged 10 to 50 (the typical duration of time when a woman menstruates) should be allowed to enter the temple of the deity who has been “celibate”.

The case was last heard by a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and including Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra.

In its previous hearing on August 8, the apex court had reserved its verdict in the matter after hearing it for eight days.

However, the bench mentioned the provisions under Article 25 and 26 (Freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution and observed that a person can only be restrained on the grounds of “public health, public order, and morality”.

Earlier, Senior lawyer AM Singhvi – appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board which is said to have the legal authority to manage the 800-year-old Sabarimala temple’s administration – had stated that the practice was a bonafide as its origins are laid with the deity itself.

In its argument, the defence had said that Lord Ayyappa was a celibate for life – a ‘Naishtika Brahmacharya’. The defence had stressed that the age-old practice is based on the belief of the devotees.

The bench told Singhvi that it was the duty of the Devaswom Board to establish that the practice of banning women of a certain age group was the essential and integral part of the religious practice.

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