If god does not discriminate between men and women, why should discrimination exist in temples, the Supreme Court asked today as it said it would examine the issue of entry ban on women of menstrual age in the historic Sabarimala temple on the basis of constitutional parameters.
“We want to test this on constitutional parameters,” the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said and asked senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Travancore Devaswom Board, to apprise it whether this practice was “intricately fundamental” to religious custom or practice and hence cannot be interfered with.
The bench, also comprising Justices P C Ghose and N V Ramana, referred to the Bhagwad Gita and said that neither the ‘Vedas’, nor the ‘Upanishads’ discriminate on the grounds of gender.
“The God does not discriminate between men and women, so why there should be gender discrimination in premises of the temple,” the bench said and referred to a mythological story about ‘Sati Anusuyia’ who had turned Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh into kids and asked “how can you stop the mother from entering the temple.”
Venugopal, who sought six weeks time for filing evidence including documents and ancient scriptures on the issue, said this practice of prohibiting women of menstrual age in the Sabarimala was being followed for centuries, an aspect which should be kept in mind while deciding the matter.
The bench also took note of Kerala government’s recent stand and termed it as “somersault” saying, “You have filed an affidavit by taking an opposite stand. We will test it also as to whether a can take a somersault or U-turn”.
“A state or a party can always correct its earlier erroneous stand,” senior lawyer V Giri, appearing for Kerala, said.
Kerala government, in its recent affidavit, has said that banning entry of women of menstrual age in the temple was a “matter of religion” and it was duty-bound to “protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees”.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for an intervenor, said women were part of the human race and they have to be allowed entry.
“Women can also observe celibacy,” she said while countering Venugopal’s submissions.