New Delhi: With the pilgrimage season at Sabarimala set to begin on Nov 15, the Supreme Court on Friday in another landmark judgment lifted the ban on female devotees falling in the age group of 10-50 years visiting Lord Ayyappa’s Sabarimala temple in Kerala, permitting the entry of every women inside the temple.
The constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra court allowed women access to the historic temple, citing the violation of Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution of India by the administrative authorities of temple.
Lord Ayyappa, deity at Sabarimala temple is considered to be a ‘celibate’ by devotees; women of menstruating age were prohibited from entering the shrine.
The 800-year-old hilltop temple can be accessed through Periyar Tiger Reserve and remains open only for 127 days in a year.
A five-judge bench struck down rule 3 (b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965, which stated that “women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship.”
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who retires October 2, said that devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination and patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion.
“All devotees are equal and there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender,” he asserted.
The bench quoted the provisions under Article 25 and 26 (Freedom to practice of religion) of the Constitution and concluded that a person can only be restricted on the grounds of “public health, public order, and morality.”