The Supreme Court, hearing a PIL challenging the ban on entry of women aged 10-50 at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, asked the temple officials why this discrimination exists when the Vedas and the Upanishads don’t discriminate, NDTV reported. The SC also wondered, “Is spirituality only for men? Women incapable of spirituality?” The court has given temple officials six weeks to respond.
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