Mumbai: In a landmark verdict, the Bombay High Court on Friday declared that no law prevents women from entering places of worship. The court, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Vidya Bal and Nilima Varta, said there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering a place of worship is concerned.
The PIL challenged the tradition of prohibiting the entry of women inside the sanctum-sanctorum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, claiming that barring women is arbitrary, illegal and in violation to the fundamental rights of a citizen that the Constitution bestows.
"After the court`s verdict, women can now enter any temple," Petitioner Nilima Vartak was quoted as saying by ANI.
"There should be no gender discrimination as far as entering a place of worship is concerned and the women have the right to exercise their religious freedom," Vartika said.
"It is very unfortunate that petitioners like us have to go to the court for enforcement of an act. A law is there so implementation has to be there," she added.
Vartika further said that the court has not just given a verdict, but has also promised implementation of its order.
"On the behalf of the Maharashtra Government, the Advocate General assured the court that the act will be implemented," she said.
On January 26, at least 400 women volunteers, mainly hailing from Pune, led by Trupti Desai, president of the Bhumata Brigade, made an unsuccessful attempt to storm the `chauthara` of the temple, but prohibited by but police stopped the marchers at Supa village, 70 kms from the temple.
The temple drew attention in November 2015 after a woman offered prayers in `breach` of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women. Following the incident, the temple committee had suspend seven security men and the villagers to perform purification rituals.