Everyone can enter Sabarimala regardless of their sex, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday after hearing petitions against the ban of women between the ages 10 - 50 from praying in the Ayyappa temple.
Elaborating on its observation, the apex court stated that "a woman's right to pray was not dependent on any law but is a Constitutional right" and that "what applies to a man applies to a woman as well."
The observation was made by a 5-judge-constitution bench while hearing a petition challenging rule 3(b) of the the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, according to a TNIE report.
The bench was headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprised of senior judged RF Nariman, Indu Malhotra, DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar.
CJI Dipak Misra stated, "If a man who is not a trustee or a poojari can enter, then women also can," adding that restrictions can only be placed in terms of morality, health and public order.
The CJI also added that it was against the constitutional mandate to deny entry to women. "Once you open it for public, anyone can go," he added.
The top court also has the support of the Kerala government which has rooted for the entry of women of all ages to the temple.
Minister for Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran stated that the the state government stance is that women should be allowed to offer prayers in Sabarimala temple and that the Devaswom Board - which manages several Hindu temples including Sabarimala - is of the same opinion as the SC, according to a Manorama report.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising argued that the practice violates fundamental rights such as article 17 that deals with untouchability.
"They argue it is not based on sex, They say it is based on menarche, the age when women menstruate. The discrimination based on physiology applies only to women and hence it is a discrimination based on sex.” she stated according to the report.