The Travancore Devaswom Board, an autonomous body, which manages 1248 temples including the hill shrine of Sabarimala has come out in support of women entry into the temple, in a departure from its initial position.
On Wednesday, advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for TDB said that the board was in favor of the September 2018 verdict by the Supreme Court and an application has been filed to that effect.
"Women cannot be excluded from any walk of life on biological attributes, equality is the dominant theme of the Constitution”, he told a 5-judge Constitutional bench of the apex court which comprised of Justices Indu Malhotra, RF Nariman, AN Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud apart from CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
Rakesh also argued that Article 25(1) of the Constitution equally entitles all persons to practise religion. His explanation was preceded by a specific enquiry by Justice Indu Malhotra on TDB’s change in stance.
Speaking to media persons, TDB President A Padmakumar stated the board had never filed a review petition in the case, but had only asked for more time to implement the judgment.
“We never filed a review petition against the entry of women of all ages into the temple. What we had done is file a petition seeking more time to give a proper explanation. Regarding the court verdict, we have stated that we accept it and we are against any form of discrimination.”
Padmakumar added that the Board had not yet decided on a detailed explanation as they were permitted more time by the court.
Just a few months before the 2016 assembly polls, the TDB had vehemently opposed a public interest litigation for women entry into Sabarimala filed by the Young Indian Lawyers association. The petition was filed when the Congress led UDF was in power in Kerala. After the LDF government came into power, the TDB changed its stance, as did the government.
Following the hearings on Wednesday, the Constitution bench reserved its verdict on 65 petitions asking for a review of the September 28 verdict allowing women of ages into the temple.