NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday continued with the hearing of the case relating to the entry of women inside the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, which is dedicated to Lord Ayappa, during which Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran compared the matter with that of the issue of untouchability of the Dalits.
Advocate Ramachandran said that the protection against untouchability should be interpreted to include any exclusion based on impurity. He added that if excluding women is based on menarche, its basis is impurity and, hence, the effect is the same as in the case of Dalits. The hearing continued for the third consecutive day on Thursday.
The entry of women, aged between 10 to 50 years, is barred inside the famous temple.
During the hearing, advocate Ramachandran argued that if women are restricted from entering the temple due to menstruation, then it's like touching the Dalits and is the same as discrimination. Significantly, the Constitution has got protection against the untouchables and no discrimination can be made on the basis of religion, caste, community, and gender, he argued.
Significantly, the Kerala High Court has upheld the ban on entry of women in its decision. The court had said that 41 days of Brahmacharya is to be followed before entering the temple and due to menstruation, women cannot follow it.
During the hearing, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Kerala Travancore Devasam Board, said that there are thousands of temples of Lord Ayappa around the world and there is no ban, but there are 'Brahmachari Devs' in Sabarimala and that's why there is a ban on the entry of women of a certain age.
This is not discrimination with anyone nor is it a matter of gender discrimination, Singhvi contended.
However, unsatisfied with the argument, Supreme Court Justice Rohinton Nariman asked ''what is the logic behind this?''
''What will happen if the girl starts a menstrual cycle at the age of 9?'' the apex court judges asked.
Responding to this, Singhvi said that this tradition is there and accordingly one age standard has been decided.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the Supreme Court had said that it was the constitutional right of women to enter Sabarimala temple to worship and there can be no discrimination against them. The court further added that the temple is a public property and not a personal property so if a man can enter, then any woman of any age can also enter.
The next hearing of the case will be on Tuesday.