The apex court has referred the matter of women's entry into Kerala's historic Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple to Constitution bench. Handing over the case, the Supreme Court three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra raised several questions including whether it is possible for a temple to restrict entry for women.
The five-judge Constitution bench will have to deal with the questions raised by the court. One of the significant aspects to be decided by the Constitution bench is whether restriction imposed, on entry into the temple amounts to infringement of fundamental rights of women.
The temple authorities are restricting entry of women citing tradition. The apex court will examine whether this amounts to discrimination against women.
The court had on February 20 reserved its order on whether to refer the matter to a constitution bench.
The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.
The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple.
On November 7 last year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.
Initially, the LDF government had taken a progressive stand in 2007 by favouring women's entry into the temple, which was overturned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation later.
The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.
(With PTI inputs)