The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that denying entry to women in Sabarimala Temple is against the Constitutional mandate.
The Chief Justice observed it while hearing on the contentious issue relating to the ban on entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age the temple.
"On what basis you (temple authorities) deny the entry. It is against the Constitutional mandate. Once you open it for the public, anybody can go," observed the Chief Justice of India.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising of justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the ban on entry of women into the hill temple, situated in the Pathanamthitta district.
Justice DY Chandrachud observed said, "Your (intervener) right to pray being a woman, is equal to that of a man and it is not dependent on a law to enable you to do that."
Kerala Minister K Surendran said that the state government's stand is that women should be allowed to offer prayers in Sabarimala Temple. "We have filed an affidavit in SC explaining our stand. Now it has to take a decision. We're bound to obey its verdict. Devaswom board now have the same opinion as government," he said.
Earlier after temple Devaswom board denied entry for women aged between 10 to 50 then apex court had on October 13 last year referred the issue to a Constitution bench after framing five 'significant' questions including whether the practice of banning entry of women in the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights under the Constitution.
Petitioner Indian Young Lawyers Association and others have sought directions from the court to ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10 and 50 at the Lord Ayappa temple at Sabarimala.
On November 7, 2016, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.
Initially, the LDF government had taken a progressive stand in 2007 by favouring women's entry into the temple, which was overturned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation later.