Voicing support for women in the Sabarimala issue, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned the temple authorities how they can restrict the entry of a section of people on the on the basis of a biological phenomenon.
The court wondered whether a biological phenomenon can be a condition or a precedent for entry of women at temples. “Are you associating mensuration with purity of an individual?,” the court asked
The top court said all practices are acceptable till there is no distinction between genders. “If men can go till a point (near the temple) without undertaking austere activities, why can't women go?,” it asked.
“If tests of austerity apply to men, why can't women undertake them?,” it further asked.
In its response, the Devaswom board argued that the tradition banning the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 dates back hundreds of years. The board drew examples of the armed forces and the BCCI to buttress their argument that there is no discrimination in the hill shrine.
“When recruitment for the armed forces takes place, citizens between 18-24 years of age are considered. It may seem classification amongst men, but the reason is endurance,” it said. It also pointed out that the BCCI spends money on training only cricketers below 30 years of age.
Women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the famous forest temple situated in Pathanamthitta district of south Kerala. As per the tradition, the journey to Sabarimala is a 41-day long pilgrimage and religious experts argue that women cannot remain “pure” as she will undergo the menstrual period before completing the journey.
The top court, while hearing the case earlier, had wondered how the man-made customs can prescribe such prohibition when “the God does not discriminate between men and women”. Observing that there are differences between religion and temple, the court had also asked if there is any evidence to prove that women were not allowed in the temple 1,500 years ago.