The Supreme Court has asked why women should not be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Hearing arguments in a 10-year-old case filed by the Young Lawyers Association, the apex court asked if the government was sure that women had not entered the temple in the last 1,500 years. The bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra observed that according to the Indian constitution, women cannot be disallowed. Though the case was filed many years ago, it had not come up for hearing, folllowing which the petitioner gave a fresh application. The court asked lawyer KK Venugopal who appeared for the Travancore Devasom Board whether there was any basis for such a rule other than based on religion and religious beliefs.
The previous LDF government had told the court that it was not against women entering Sabarimala. The current UDF government had however asked the court permission to file a new petition in the case.
The Sabarimala temple in Kerala does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises. Women who have crossed menopause are however allowed.
The temple was in the midst of a controversy recently after Travancore Devasom Board Chairman Prayar Gopalakrishnan said that women will be allowed into the temple when there was a machine to scan impurity.
Commenting on a long-pending Public Interest Litigation filed by the Indian Young Lawyer’s Association in 2006, the Supreme Court had earlier asked the Travancore Devaswom Board to explain how it could ban women from entering the Sabarimala Temple.
Entry to a place of worship could be restricted only by religious beliefs and not by gender, the court had observed.
The SC also asked the Devaswom Board how they could be sure that women were not accorded permission to enter the temple premises 1500 years ago.