29 September, 2018
Stating that "law and society are tasked with the task to act as levelers", CJI Misra said "dualistic approach against women degrades the status of women".
Stating that society needs to undergo a perceptual shift, Misra said: "Patriarchy in religion can not be permitted to trump over elements of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one's religion". The Court held that woman of age group 10 to 50 shall not be permitted to enter the temple "when they are not in a position to observe penance for 41 days due to physiological reasons".
In July, the Supreme Court was told by the temple board that it had no right to interfere with the temple practices. But the court disagreed and said that the restriction on women can't be treated as an essential religious practice.
As menstruating women are restricted from offering prayers inside the temple to the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa.
The judge discusses the history, the constitutional assembly debates, in relation to Article 17 and observes that background of Article 17 lies in protecting the dignity of those who have been victims of discrimination, prejudice and social exclusion.
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"We are going for a review petition by the first week of October". The lawyer appearing on their behalf had told the court that the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, is an eternal celibate and therefore women of menstruating ages should not be allowed in the premises. The case is related to the entry of women inside the temple. This is placing the burden of a men's celibacy on women.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court said "What applies to a man, applies to a woman". "Menstruating women can not fulfill the vows".
In a historic verdict given by the Supreme Court in the Sabarimala Temple case, the apex court lifted a century-old ban that prohibited women from entering the temple.
"Women have a right to control their own bodies".
Subsequently, it went into cold storage before it came up for hearing seven years later, on January 11, 2016. Menstrual cycles have been treated as a taboo by attaching a stigma to it. Years of institutionalisation of biases against menstruating women have gone on to deny them the constitutionally guaranteed right to equality. In January this year, the temple authorities had made it mandatory for female devotees to furnish their age proof while visiting. "I don't think women are prepared to undergo the rigorous religious practices before setting out for the pilgrimage", he said.