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“Support your verdict, will allow entry of women into temple”

Posted in S. Asia

Published on February 10, 2019 with No Comments

In a massive U-turn, the Travancore Dewasom Board, which runs Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, has told the Supreme Court of India that it now supports the court’s September 28, 2018 verdict allowing all women into the shrine.

 The board, which also has state government nominees on it, told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it is high time a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of “biological attributes”. 

“Article 25 (1) equally entitles all persons to practice religion,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the board, told the court. 

The Supreme Court was hearing review petitions against its September 28 verdict.   The Travancore Dewasom Board had earlier vehemently opposed the Supreme Court’s verdict, saying that the celibate character of Sabarimala’s presiding deity Lord Aiyappa, was a unique religious feature protected under the constitution. 

Religious mythology says Aiyappa will only look at a woman when he is ready to marry her — which is why women of menstruating age were not allowed to enter the temple. 

The Supreme Court’s verdict had led to massive political mobilization in the state by both the BJP and the Congress,

 with Aiyappa devotees preventing the entry of women. Kerala’s Left Front government led by Chief Minister Pinari Vijayan had said the Supreme Court verdict had to be enforced. Dwivedi added that people should gracefully accept the Supreme Court verdict.

“The board respects the judgement of the court. Article 25 (1) of the Constitution equally entitles all citizens to practice religion,” said senior lawyer Rakesh Dvivedi appearing for the Board.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the shrine, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination. 


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