New Delhi, Aug 1: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a ban on the entry of women in the age group 10-50 years in Kerala's Sabarimala temple. A five judge constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra heard arguments in support and against of the ban for eight days.
On the final day of hearing, the Kerala government said the prohibition of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years from entering the Sabarimala temple is unconstitutional. "Sabarimala Ayyappa temple cannot claim to be a distinct denomination to claim a custom which bars entry of women between 10-50 year age group to the temple. The custom is constitutionally not permissible," senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for Kerala, said.
The constitution bench is hearing an October 13, 2017 reference by a three-judge bench which had framed four questions to be addressed by it, including whether excluding women (10-50 years) constitutes an essential religious practice and whether a religious institution can assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion.
Besides, the court is examining whether the Ayyappa temple has a denominational character and if it was permissible for a religious denomination managed by a statutory board and funded by the Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments to indulge in practices violative of the constitutional principles.