Monday, October 10

Supreme Court Says Constitution Doesn’t Protect Religious Practices That Discriminate On Grounds Of Gender

“The state has been empowered to enact a law to throw open temples to all categories of persons.”

File photo of Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court, while hearing petitions against the ban on entry of women in the Sabrimala Temple, has said that the fundamental rights of the Constitution do no protect religious practices that discriminate on the grounds of caste or gender.

Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra were the bench of justices hearing the petition.

The Times of India reported Justice Chandrachud as saying, “Even if it is part of Hindu religious custom to exclude any particular category from entering the temple, the state has been empowered (by the Constitution) to enact a law to throw open temples to all categories of persons.”

This was after the lawyer representing the Nair Services Society argued that the temple did not discriminate against women since it allowed women above the age of 50 and below the age of 10. He further defended the ban on women saying since devotees believe in Aiyappa’s celebate state, women who menstruate were not allowed to enter the temple.

The court also spoke about patriarchy and how women were conditioned from day one of their lives.

Asian Age reported that while the court argued that such practices was because of male chauvinism, Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board, argued that the such practices existed for years and across the world, hence the Supreme Court shouldn’t disturb it.

However, the court disagreed.

The Asian Age report Justice Chandrachud as saying, “We will obliterate them wherever we can… Right from the day they are born women have to go through social conditioning – ‘this is what you are supposed to follow, this is your role.”

The petitions against the discriminatory practice of not allowing women aged between 10 and 50 to enter Sabrimala was referred to a Constitution bench last year. The court is looking into whether this custom violated the fundamental rights of women.