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Cannot link menstruation to temple entry: HC on Sabarmati Ban

  • The controversial ban on entry of woman to the Sabarmati Temple was justified by the Travancore Devasvom Board which manages the Sabarmati Temple in Kerala on Monday. The ban was on the entry of women who belonged to the age group 10-50, said It was an age old practice and that other temples or religious places followed the same tradition. The board claims that there rules are based on “reasonable classification”.

    Women below 10 years or above 50 years are allowed to visit the temple. The classification is not on the ground of gender,” said Advocate K K Venugopal who is fighting the case from the board’s side to the bench consisting of justices Dipak Misra, V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph.

    "There is no gender discrimination. There is a reasonable classification by which certain class of women are excluded," said Venugopal.

    "What is the fulcrum of this classification," questioned the bench who referred to the bar on the entry of women of a specific age group. Venugopal stated that females of this age group were barred entry to the temples as they would not be able to be pure for 41 days as they would menstruate. "Do you to mean to say that mensuration is associated with with purity of women? You are making distinction based on purity ... Now the question is whether the Constitutional principles allow this?" said the bench.

    “Are you associating menstruation with purity? Can a biological phenomenon be a reason for barring women?” said the Bench. In various fields classification on the basis of age had been followed said Advocate Venugopal. “We will see what prevails- Constitutional philosophy or your faith,”stated the bench. He also stated that there are 8 Lord Ayappa temples in Delhi and NCR which allow the entry of women adding that the Sabarmati Temple is different. He mentioned that even at Sabarmati Temple women are not barred from entering the temple unless they are unable to remain pure for 41 days and added that the High Court’s judgment is in continuity and that the Apex Court should not re test it by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The arguments are indecisive as of now and would continue from the 2nd of May.

    A PIL filed by the Young Lawyers’ Association is being heard by the court on letting the women enter the Sabarmati Temple. The court had earlier perceived that equality of gender is a “constitutional message” and banning the entry of women in the temple cannot be called managing religious affairs. It had also said that doing so would test the “so-called” customs under the constitutions provision. Raju Ramachandaran a senior advocate who assists the court as amicus curiae said, "The practice, which keeps women away and prevents them from worshiping the deity of the shrine because of their biology, is derogatory and detrimental to their dignity".

    The court has also said that denying entry to women on the basis of old traditions is not justifiable as it is against the constitutional provisions as well.

    Recently, Kerala-based organisations — Hind Navotthana Pratishtan, an organization based in Kerala with their presidents Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, had budged the court by supporting the PIL seeking entry of women.


    OUR TAKE
     

    Entry of women in the Sabarmati Temple must not be denied on any grounds especially not on grounds of purity. Menstruation is a biological phenomenon and one cannot bar a woman’s entry due to the same. This is clear discrimination against women and cannot be justified by saying only a specific age group had been barred. We are proud that our courts are not accepting this discrimination against women and are being quite reasonable. Another add on the this is that the constitution allows the entry on women of any age to temples and thus whoever bars women the entry into temples is violating the constitutional provisions.








     


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