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Sabarimala temple case: Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench

13 October 2017

Further, the Kerala High Court had examined Ravi Varma Raja of the royal family of Pandalam, to which the Sabarimala temple belongs, and High Court verdict referred to their consistency with the temple tradition that the presiding deity is worshipped as a "Naisthik Bramhachari.' However, about 25 years after the Kerala High Court judgment, the Supreme Court has questioned the logic and examined the reason for the restriction on women's entry into Sabarimala temple".

Earlier this year in February, the apex court reserved an order while referring the case to a Constitution bench.

The apex court has also framed several questions to be dealt with by constitution bench.

Summary: The temple, situated in Pathanamthitta district, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from taking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala Temple.

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

Noting that this is not the first time that the Kerala government has changed its stand, the court asked the state to "unequivocally clarify its position". Meanwhile, on one side, women term the practice as discriminatory other sections say, it has to do with complex ritualistic practices of Sanatana Dharma of temples in south India.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan will pronounce the judgment on the reference.

The management of the Sabarimala temple had told the apex court that it had banned the entry of women because they can't maintain their "pureness" on account of menstruation.

The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ... This violates the rights of the women.

Senior Counsel KK Venugopal who appeared for Travancore Devasom Board, which manages the shrine, had told the court that the discrimination wasn't between men and women but was between women and women.

Despite this, Sabarimala remains different from many traditional temples as it never observed caste distinctions, even as most temples in Kerala restricted entry to those belonging to the four varnas of Vedic Hinduism. "I am sure the judgement will also be very positive and landmark", activist Brinda Adige was quoted as saying by Indian Today.

Sabarimala temple case: Supreme Court refers matter to Constitution bench