Women right activists hopeful for landmark judgment in Sabarimala Temple case

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The observation is in response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the ban on women's entry into the temple.

The Supreme Court on Friday referred the pleas on allowing women - aged between 10 to 50 years -to enter into Kerala's Sabarimala temple to a constitutional bench.

Among the questions referred to the bench include the question of whether or not any group of people - women in this case - can be prevented from entering a Hindu place of worship according to current laws. The questions included whether the historic temple can restrict women's entry and whether the restriction of entry of women into the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution.

The Constitution Bench will now be looking into several women rights claims regarding the matter, especially the women's fundamental right of freedom to pray at their place of choice.

The case in this regard is going on since 2016 when a petitioner filed a plea against ban on entry of menstruating women in the Kerala temple. This is the main reason for the dispute as women activists have questioned this as a clear practice of gender discrimination.

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As per current practice, the temple doesn't allow entry to any woman who has attained puberty.

Questioning the age-old custom, the Supreme Court in July had said, "A temple is a public religious place and can not refuse entry to a woman. Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations..."

Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had told the court in an affidavit filed in September that it was now in support of entry of women into the temple, reversing its earlier stand on the issue.

The temple authorities have justified the ban women wihin the 10-50 age bracket, saying it is an age-old practice founded in tradition.

On November 7 past year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.

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