Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra, Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra JJ., commenced the hearing on the well-known ‘Sabarimala Temple case‘ yesterday right after reserving the judgment in the case dealing with the constitutionality of Section 377 IPC.

The issue in this matter revolves around the customary religious practice of prohibition on the entry of women of a certain age (10-50) into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

In today’s proceedings the arguments were as follows:

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising: Can you obstruct women from praying in a public place of worship: What is good law for Harijans is good for women.

Chandrachud, J.: Problem of entry in Sabarimala may not be under Article 17 (untouchability) but can be resolved by expanding “all classes and sections” in Article 25(2)(b) to women

Jaising: Menstruating women are not allowed to intermingle within their own family. It is untouchability. Menstruating women are viewed as polluted. The prohibition, they say, is not based on religion but custom.

Indira Jaising cited Shayara Bano v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 1 to argue that Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Act, which validates customary practice of prohibiting women entry inside Sabarimala is manifestly arbitrary.

CJI Dipak Misra: Where a man can enter, even a woman can go. What applies to a man, applies to a woman.

Chandrachud J. quoted Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of India: “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” This means your right as a woman to pray is not dependent on a legislation. It is your constitutional right.

RP Gupta contended that Sabarimala Temple is not a distinct religious denomination and is part of Hindu religion. Cites Hindu Commissioner v. Shirur Matt case, 1954 SCR 1005  and SP Mittal v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 51  to determine religious denomination test.

Chandrachud J.: Tagging religious belief with menarche is absurd. Exclusion on the basis of age of a woman is irrelevant, tagging age with menarche is even more so.

CJI Dipak Misra: “How can restriction on women of certain age group be covered by the ground of untouchability”.

State of Kerala changed its stance for the same issue 4th time in a row, this time supporting women entry in the temple.

The Bench concluded the hearing for today and would resume with the same from tomorrow, i.e. 19-07-2018. [Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, WP (C) No. 373 of 2006, order dated 18-7-2018]

More updates to follow.

[Source: The Hindu]