New Delhi, November 8, 2016: The Supreme Court was informed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of Kerala on Monday that it will allow the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple- a decision that effectively changes the state’s position on the concerning issue.
The U-turn made by the Kerala Government appears just months after the filing of the additional affidavit in the Supreme Court on July, which supported the ban on women’s entry into the sacred shrine.
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A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Dipak Misra, and Ashok Bhushan stated on Monday, “On being asked as to what is the stand of the state, senior advocate Gupta states that the state intends to place reliance on its original affidavit (2007) and not on additional affidavit…women of any age group should not be debarred from entry into the temple to worship the deity.” The Supreme Court bench said that the next hearing is scheduled to take place on 13th February, 2017.
On 2007, the LDF government was in favor of allowing the women into the temple. But the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) that took over from LDF gave a contrary opinion citing the traditions of the temple.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, the representative of the Travancore Devaswam Board that manages the Sabarimala temple, stated to the bench that the state government could not afford to alter its decision according to its convenience.
The change in decision comes only days ahead of the beginning of the ‘Makaravillaku’ pilgrimage-season and the 3 months long ‘Mandala’ puja at the temple on 15th November.
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During the popular festival, nearly 4-crore devotees throng to the holy temple that is dedicated to lord Ayyappa.
The Supreme Court has stated on 11th July that it may refer the concerned issue to a five-judge constitution bench. The issue is the centuries-old tradition of barring the women between 10-50 years of age, from entering the temple.
The apex Court observed the fact that women are conferred rights under the Constitution and it would like to pass a detailed order in case the issue is referred to a constitution bench. The court remarked, “A temple is a public religious place. You cannot refuse entry to a woman who comes there … It violates the rights of women. We understand the seriousness of the issue. Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations…”
The apex Court had earlier raised a question on the ban on the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, saying that it would test if ‘faith and belief’ could differentiate among people of the same denomination.
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The management of the holy temple, located on the top of a hill in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier informed the court that the ban on the entry of the women existed due to their inability to maintain “purity” while menstruating.
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