Maneka Gandhi Hails Top Court's Sabarimala Verdict, Calls It "Inclusive"

Sabarimala verdict Shiv Sena calls for Kerala shutdown on Monday

Finally, the notifications issued by the Devaswom Board prohibiting the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50, are held unconstitutional.

The temple's authorities said they will appeal before the temple opens to worshippers again on 16 October.

Jaising had argued that the custom is discriminatory in nature and that it stigmatised women.

The temple remains open only for 127 days in a year and the approach to it entails hard paths through a forest.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the only female judge on the Supreme Court's bench delivered her dissent, in which she said religious organizations had the right to manage their own affairs. In the past month, the country's top court legalized homosexuality, decriminalized adultery and clipped the scope of a government biometric program, bowing to demands from privacy activists.

Justice Misra, who will retire on Tuesday, was heading a five-judge bench which gave a 4-1 verdict. "In a secular polity, issues which are matters of deep religious faith and sentiment, must not ordinarily be interfered with by courts".

Presenting a dissenting judgement, Justice Indu Malhotra said that the present judgment won't be limited to Sabarimala and will have wide ramifications. In such a case, if a person is allowed to enter the public property, then the woman should also be allowed to enter.

He added, "Sabarimala is a centre of worship for people of various religions".

"Women are not lesser or inferior to man", CJI Misra said, adding that the patriarchy of religion can not be allowed to trump over faith.

Today, the judges have told him that we won't be needing that scanner anymore.

Reacting to the historic verdict by the Supreme Court, the Kerala government welcomed the verdict and further termed it a progressive one. Menstrual cycles have been treated as a taboo by attaching a stigma to it. Years of institutionalisation of biases against menstruating women have gone on to deny them the constitutionally guaranteed right to equality.

Women in India have been intensifying campaigns in recent years to be allowed to enter Hindu temples and other religious sites. The Sabarimala board opposed the petition asking for the ban to be lifted but on Friday announced that it would comply with the Supreme Court's verdict. Another statement which the SC made was that "woman's right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right".

What is the significance of the Sabarimala temple? Millions of devotees from all over the world visit the temple to seek blessings.

The proposed changes include introducing a separate passage for women for climbing the 18 sacred steps, arranging exclusive bathing ghats and, of course, providing toilets for women.

According to the temple website, pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before entering the shrine.

Devotees are also supposed to follow specific rituals before they enter the shrine.

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