Sabarimala: Ruling out Kerala's Sabarimala temple's 1500-year-old tradition, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Monday that unless a temple had a constitutional right, it could not prohibit the entry of the women pilgrims to offer worship.
"The temple cannot prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry. Anyway, we will examine it on February 8," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and NV Ramana said.
The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by the Young Lawyers Association, seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises.
It asked the state government whether it was sure that women have not entered the temple premises in the last 1,500 years.
The bench also observed that it was a public temple and everyone needed to have "the right to access". At best, there can be religious restrictions and not a general restriction, it said.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for Kerala, said the women, who have not attained menopause, cannot preserve the purity during the religious journey to the temple, located on a hilltop, which usually spans 41 days, as per PTI.
Further rapping the temple authority's right to ban the entry of women in its premises, the apex court asked why can't women be allowed to enter Sabarimala temple.
"Can entry of women be regulated on basis of any criteria other than that of religion?," the top court asked.
The SC further asked the Kerala government to submit an affidavit in the matter. The next hearing regarding this issue is on February 8.
According to media reports, women are not allowed inside the temple after they attain puberty. Post menopausal women, however, are allowed.
Recently, Sabarimala Temple Board's controversial decision to install machines to test menstruating women had sparked outrage over social networking sites.
A campaign called ‘Happy To Bleed’ was launched after Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan said that women should be allowed in the Sabarimala Temple only after the invention of a machine to ‘check the purity of women.’
With the Kerala High Court seeking that the famed Sabarimala temple in the state's Pathanamthitta district and its premises are kept clean and turn 'green', local authorities have launched an awareness drive and asked pilgrims to ensure that they adhere to the rules.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea-level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
Till a few years back, it was open only for two months - from mid-November to mid-January - but now is kept open for five days every month and as a result, the number of pilgrims has risen dramatically