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The Sabarimala case has been one of the most keenly awaited judgments. The Supreme Court, by 4:1 majority, in the Writ Petition titled Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. V. The State of Kerala & Ors., delivered its Judgment on 28.09.2018, permitting the entry of women of all age groups to the Sabarimala Temple, Kerala, holding that ‘devotion cannot be subjected to gender discrimination’.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R F Nariman, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud constituted the majority, while the lone woman in the Bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, dissented.

Justice Indu Malhotra, in her lone dissent, held that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the Court. Court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion. Notion of rationality should not be seen in matters of religion. She also held that shrine and the deity is protected by Article 25 of Constitution of India.

The Bench observed that, “Women is not lesser or inferior to man. Patriarchy of religion cannot be permitted to trump over faith. Biological or physiological reasons cannot be accepted in freedom for faith. Religion is basically way of life however certain practices create incongruities.”

The separate but concurring opinion of Justice Nariman held: “Anything destructive of individuality is anachronistic of Constitutionality. To treat women as lesser people blinks at the Constitution itself”.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reflected that one visits a temple by virtue of their belief and devotion, and that the onus to prove the rationality and reasonableness would be on those imposing the prohibition. Hence, Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules 1965, which prohibited entry of women in Sabarimala Temple, was struck down as unconstitutional.

Surabhi Aggarwal

Senior Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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