NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will on Friday pronounce its judgement on the entry of women in Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The bench will be giving its verdict on whether the exclusionary practice is discriminatory and is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by ‘morality’ as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution
It will also give its decision on whether the practice of excluding women is an 'essential religious practice' under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can assert a claim in that regard. The apex court will examine if Ayyappa Temple has a denominational character and, if so, is it permissible on the part of a ‘religious denomination’ managed by a statutory board and financed under Article 290-A of the Constitution of India.
The five-judge bench of the court, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, had in August reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the age-old practice.
The SC had in July ruled that women have the constitutional right to enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala and pray like men without being discriminated against. A five-judge Constitution bench, which is hearing a petition challenging the decision of the Devaswom board banning entry of women of age group 10-50 years, said that even if there was no law, the women cannot be discriminated against with regard to offering prayer in a temple.
"When a man can enter, a woman can also go. What applies to a man, applies to a woman also," the bench also comprising justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra had observed.
"The right to enter a temple is not dependent on a legislation. It is the constitutional right," the bench said, adding that this right is enshrined under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
The Kerala government, which had been changing its stand on the contentious issue of women of a particular age group entering the Sabarimala temple, had also told the Supreme Court that it favours the entry of women in the temple.