Supreme Court: The 5-Judge Constitution Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra, Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra JJ., by a 4:1 majority, allowed the entry of women in Sabarimala Temple, Kerala.

CJ Dipak Misra: Women no way inferior to men. On one hand, women are worshipped as Goddesses, but there are restrictions on the other hand. Relationship with God can’t be defined by biological or physiological factors.

CJ and Khanwilkar, J: Rule 3(b) of Kerala Temple Entry Act which excludes women aged between 10 and 50 violates freedom of a Hindu religion to worship. Right to worship is equally available to men and women. There can be no discrimination on the basis of gender.

 Dr D.Y. Chandrachud J.: To treat women as the children of a lesser God is to blink at the Constitution.

“The ban says presence of women deviates from celibacy. This is placing the burden of a men’s celibacy on women. Stigmatises them, stereotypes them.”

R.F. Nariman J.: Rule 3(b) is unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 25(1) & 15(1) of the Constitution. Excluding women renders their right to practice faith.

 Indu Malhotra J. (dissents): What is essential practice in a religion is for the religion to decide, it is a matter of personal faith. India is a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gives freedom to practice even irrational customs. Religious practices cannot be solely tested on the bedrock of equality.

“Religious practices can’t solely be tested on the basis of the right to equality. It’s up to the worshippers, not the Court to decide what’s religion’s essential practice.”

Indu Malhotra J. Judges cannot intervene and decide on whether a practice is violative of fundamental rights or not. Personal views of judges do not matter. A religious denomination has freedom to believe and practice even if their beliefs are illogical or irrational.

Hence, the Constitution Bench with 4:1 majority removed the ban on entry of women in the Sabarimala Temple stating “Women can’t be treated as lesser or weaker.”

Judgment awaited.

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  • The historical judgement on Sabarimala will be the landmark decision on dignity of women.It will enliven the social fabric of Kerala just as the temple entry proclamation did.

  • It is very strange that out of the 5 judges it is only the woman judge , Indu Malhotra, who dissented and the four men judges ruled in the favour of lifting the ban from women (10-50 years) entering the Sabarimala Temple in Kerela. We all know that the ban on the women between ages 10 to 50 was mainly because of the `biological being’ of women… This means that women should be chastised and alienated for biological reasons…this is denial and alienation and limiting women’s being only to a certain biological factors. Whereas it is a fact to be realized that these very `biologically dynamic’ years are the important years in a woman’s life when she can challenge herself to be aware of her body and being and then can endeavour to afford herself the opportunity to live life on her own terms and according to her own capabilities. This is not to say that the years after that are to be cherished any less. Religion is a concept emanating from human imagination and should take flight according to the lived experiences of people and not exist in stale and archaic mores. The archaic mores that exist in the state of denial soon die their own death, we all know. Having said this it is important to remember that spiritual journeys are personal but no cult or straight-jacketed religion should be allowed to perpetrate a feeling of claustrophobia and suffocation. Finally it is a great moment of exhilaration that women have got a huge support from the men judges, which, I must say is a great moment of solidarity and worth appreciating a zillion times.

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