NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 31, 2018 (Deccan Chronicle): The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday made it clear that the Sabarimala temple in Kerala cannot exclude a section of women in the age group of 10 to 50 from entering the temple by imposing discriminatory conditions. The CJI heading a five-judge Constitution Bench told counsel V.K. Biju appearing on behalf of devotees that the temple can have rituals but by prescribing an impossible condition of 41-day ritual, a section of women are being discriminated and this amounts to exclusion. Justice Chandrachud endorsed CJI’s observation and said, “If Constitution is supreme then there cannot be any exclusion of a section of women as it is violative of Article 14. Ours is a progressive Constitution and if necessary we have to deal with such issues head-on. If it is an abhorrent practice, why should we not interfere with it?”
Biju argued that the policy not to allow women between the age of 10 and 50 is reflected in the rituals and practices of the temple. If these things were changed, that would amount to changing the whole nature of the temple itself, which will be violative of Article 25. Rejecting the charge that women are not allowed entry, he said that from 2010-2017, about 1.5 million women in the age group of 10 to 50 visited Sabarimala. It is a fact that women from all fields and from all over the country and from the outside the country visit Sabarimala every year. It is a fact that there is only age regulation and there are regulations for men’s entry too in temples like Attukal Bhagavathi temple. He argued that since the Deity is in the form of a Naishthik Brahmachari, it is believed that young women should not offer worship in the temple so that even the slightest deviation from celibacy and austerity observed by the Deity is not caused by the presence of such women. Biju urged the court to appoint an appropriate commission to analyze the truth of the custom and practice.