Verdict on Entry of Women to Sabarimala: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Verdict on Entry of Women to Sabarimala: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgment in the case relating to the ban on entry of women in Sabarimala temple shortly.

The temple prohibits entry of women who are in their menstruating years. This was challenged by the Indian Young Lawyers Association in 2006. The matter was eventually referred to a Constitutional Bench in 2017.

Arguments before the Constitution Bench commenced in July this year and the Court reserved its verdict on August 1 after hearing it for eight days.

The judgment will be pronounced by a Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

Live updates follow:

Pronouncement commences.

CJI Dipak Misra has authored a judgment on behalf of himself and Justice AM Khanwilkar. Justices DY Chandrachud and Rohinton Nariman concurs with CJI Dipak Misra. Justice Indu Malhotra dissents.

Judgment by CJI Dipak Misra on behalf of himself and Justice AM Khanwilkar 

– The law and society are tasked with the task to act as levelers

– Devotees of Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination

– Rule 3(b) of 1965 Rules is a clear violation of right of Hindu women to practice religion under Article 25 of the Constitution

– The bar on entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years is not an essential part of the religion

 Rule 3(b) of  the  Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) 1965 Act is ultra vires, writ petition allowed

Judgment by Justice Rohinton Nariman 

– The custom of barring women is violative of Article 25(1) of the Constitution

Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules,1965 struck down

Judgment by Justice DY Chandrachud

– Article 25 protects all persons, it means every individual in the society

– Religion cannot be a cover to deny women right to worship. To treat women as children of a lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality.

–  Physiological features cannot be a ground for denial of rights. To suggest that women cannot keep Vratam is to stigmatize them

– Article 17 is not restricted to abolition of untouchability. Chandrachud J. gives broad interpretation to Article 17

– DY Chandrachud J. holds that Bombay High Court judgment in Narasu Appa Mali is not good law when it comes to customs and usages.

Judgment by Justice Indu Malhotra

– The issues raised have impact not just with respect to Sabarimala but other places of worship too

– Religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of Article 14

– What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court

– Notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion

– Balance needs to be struck between religious beliefs on one hand and  the cherished principles of non-discrimination and equality laid down by Constitution on the other

– Respondents have made out a strong case for Ayyappa devotees being a separate denomination

Pronouncement concludes. Supreme Court strikes down the rule prohibiting entry of women between the ages of 10-50 years into Sabarimala Temple by a 4:1 majority.

CJI Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar, Nariman, Chandrachud – Majority

Justice Indu Malhotra – Dissenting

Read the judgment below.

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