Kerala government reverses stand, favours entry of women in Sabarimala temple

Laura Christensen
November 8, 2016

The LDF in 2007 had been in favour of women's entry into the temple, but the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) which took over from it took a contrary stance, citing temple tradition.

The LDF government had filed an affidavit favouring women's entry in the temple on November 2007.

The UDF government backed the ban on entry of women, arguing that the restriction on entry of women in the menstrual age group can not be tested on the ground of fundamental right to equality since it involves essential and integral part of practising religion, which includes the "right to exclude persons".

Earlier, Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had told the court in an affidavit filed in September that it was now in support of entry of women into the temple, reversing its earlier stand on the issue.

The Supreme court on July 11 indicated that it may refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of the centuries-old practice of barring entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the Sabarimala temple. Later, the court had observed that it had to strike a balance between the fundamental rights of women to enter a religious place and the rights of a religion to follow its customs while taking a decision.

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The temple management -Travancore Devaswom Board- still defends the age-old tradition of banning children and women from entering.

The Supreme Court has scheduled the next hearing on the matter for 20 February, 2017. "Now the question is whether the Constitutional principles allow this?" the bench had said. Claiming that the government had made a mistake in 2007 and had omitted to consider certain facts, the affidavit stated that women can not be permitted in the temple since the practice flows from the temple deity's celibacy vows.

Supporting them, the Kerala Government told the court that beliefs and customs of devotees can not be changed through a judicial process and that the opinion of the priests is final in matters of religion.

The court is considering referring the case to a larger constitution bench at the behest of the Travancore Devaswom Board that runs Sabarimala temple.

Other reports by My Hot News

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