Sabarimala Temple issue referred to SC constitution bench

The court is hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by non-profit body Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry for all women and girls to the Sabarimala shrine

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution.

The management of the temple had stated that ban on entry of women was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation. The matter pertains to a ban on women at Kerala's historic Sabarimala temple.

Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had told the court in an affidavit filed in September that it was now in support of entry of women into the temple, reversing its earlier stand on the issue.

The apex court raised questions of age-old religious customs versus gender discrimination, and heard the submissions of two of its amici curiae, who were appointed to assist the court.

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

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a Constitution Bench the question whether a ban on the entry of women in the age group 10-50 years in Kerala's Sabarimala temple was discriminatory and violative of the Right to Equality under Article 14. According to him, banning entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hindu religion. The counsel further maintained that "mere attraction of some people for some temple does not make it a separate and distinct religious denomination".


The women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple. It said Article 25 of the constitution gives the temple the right to manage its own affairs.

"A temple is a public religious place".

It is being asked: Can this practice in religious institutions be allowed to stop women? It recently held that the practice of divorcing a woman by chanting "talaq, talaq, talaq" was illegal as it violated Muslim women's fundamental rights.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra (he was not Chief Justice then), J V Gopala Gowda and Justice Kurian Joseph was hearing the matter during April-May 2016.

The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial. And if they are within the authority of the Act, are they constitutional - particularly, Rule 3 (b), which talks about the entry of women and girls.

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