The Devasom Minister in Kerala on Thursday said there was no ban on women praying in the Sabarimala temple and that women, especially from the erstwhile royal families, used to pray there.
Kadakampally Surendran's statement came at a time when the Supreme Court's Constitution Bench is looking if the ban on entry into the temple of females in the age group of 10-50 years was discriminatory and violated the Constitution.
The Devasom Ministry controls the various Devasom Boards that run a number of temples in the state including Sabarimala and the Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayoor.
TKA Nair, a former advisor to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said he had been told, that way back in 1940, he was seated in his mother's lap and took part in a ritual at the Sabarimala temple.
Nair was last week appointed Chairman of the advisory committee for improving the facilities for pilgrims visiting the Sabarimala temple.
Countering them, Rahul Eshwar, a member of the Sabarimala temple 'tantric' family, said these arguments were meant to weaken the present case in the Supreme Court.
"These are all lies as I have with me records from the British era dating back to 1812 which show that in a survey report conducted then, it states that the Sabarimala temple had banned entry of women falling within a particular age group," said Eshwar.
In October last year, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan framed five questions to be addressed by the Constitution Bench on the issue.
Women aged 10-50 aren't allowed inside Sabarimala as the deity is 'celibate'.
The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is looking into whether women's right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 could be invoked to enter the shrine, in the face of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed to the Devaswom board under Article 25, and their Freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under Article 26 of the constitution.
With IANS inputs