Two religious bodies have moved the Supreme Court supporting the PIL seeking entry of women in the historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala saying no ritual or custom can be used as grounds to discriminate against women in the matter of worship.
Kerala-based bodies Hind Navotthana Pratishtan, through President Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, through its Managing Trustee Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, have filed the plea seeking to intervene in the PIL being heard by a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
“No temple ritual, ceremony or custom can ...be made any ground for discriminating against women in the matter of worshiping in any temple, including Sabarimala, as it is a clear violation of the constitutional equality and freedom guaranteed for men and women alike,” the plea, filed through lawyer Ravi P Mehrotra, said.
Referring to some religious texts, it said “no defence or refuge to the practice of disallowing women devotees can thus be taken in the case of Sabarimala Temple and Deity, or any other public places of worship, on the ground of widespread/ long-standing belief and custom.
“Just as customs can be good, noble and great, they can also be derogatory, destructive and retrograde, as has happened in the case of women, their religious status and equality...,” it said.
No custom or practice can claim any credence or exemption on any ground and the Constitution is supreme, it said, adding that the temples come under Constitution and the laws enacted under it.
The case would come up for further hearing on Friday. Earlier, the court had said that gender equality was a “constitutional message” and the ban on entry of women of a particular age group in the Sabarimala temple cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management.
The court is hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry of women in Sabarimala temple, located on a hill-top in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District.