Days after a landmark victory for women at Shani Shingnapur temple, the entry of women in Sabarimala temple is being challenged once again with the Supreme Court on Monday asking lawyers representing the Sabarimala Temple Trust if tradition was greater than the Constitution.
The SC bench consisting of Justices Dipak Misra, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and NV Ramana asserted that the case must be argued in accordance with the Constitution, said a report in Zee News.
Reports also said that the SC observed that anyone can worship God, he is omnipresent.
The SC said that the judgement, irrespective of what it will be, will be in accordance with the law.
Earlier, the SC had said, “Is spirituality only for men? Are women incapable of spirituality?” The court had given temple officials six weeks to respond. According to NDTV report, Justice Deepak Mishra said, "Can we constitutionally reconcile with the idea that women can't be allowed in sanctum sanctorum... Can a woman be denied permission to climb Mount Everest?"
Hearing a PIL filed by Indian Young Lawyers' Association, on 11 January, the Supreme Court had questioned the tradition of banning entry of women of menstrual age group in the temple. It had asked the Kerala government whether it was sure that women have not entered the temple premises in the last 1,500 years.
The bench had also observed that it was a public temple and everyone needed to have "the right to access".
At best, there can be a religious restrictions and not a general restriction, the apex court had said.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board, had said women, who have not attained menopause, cannot preserve the purity during the 41-day religious journey to the temple, located on a hilltop.
The Kerala government had on 6 February told the apex court that banning entry of women of menstrual age in historic Sabarimala temple in the state, is a "matter of religion" and it is duty bound to "protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees".
In an affidavit, the state government said that the administration of the temple vests with the Travancore Devaswom Board under the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act and the decision of the priests is final in the matter of worship.
However, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma favoured the entry of women in Sabarimala temple. "The government is of the opinion that there should be no discrimination in all religious places on (the basis of) caste and gender," he said on 9 February.
With inputs from PTI