Women of all ages can enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, the Supreme Court ordered today, ending an age-old ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorised the restriction, violated the right of Hindu women to practice religion.
Four of the five judges of constitution bench favours entry of women inside Sabarimala temple but Justice Indu Malhotra, only woman Judge on the bench, gives lone dissent and says issues raised have serious implications for all religions.
According to reports, the Sabarimala custom of not allowing entry to women is protected by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965. The ‘Public Worship Rules’ allow the exclusion of women from public places of worship, if the exclusion is based on ‘custom’.
The apex court had observed that the fundamental right of freedom to practice religion is provided to “all persons” by the Constitution and women have the right to enter and pray like men at the shrine.