The court was hearing the petition filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association that challenged the custom of the temple to bar entry of women in the 10-50 age bracket (of menstruating age), saying it was discriminatory, NewsX reported.
The temple, situated in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, restricts women aged between 10 and 50 from visiting the premises. However, In January 2016, the court had questioned the ban, saying it can not be done under the Constitution. If so, should their privilege to manage their religious affairs yield to the fundamental right of women to practice religion freely. A 1991 Kerala High Court judgment supports the restriction imposed on women devotees.
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The bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan framed several questions raised by the public interest litigation and held that these should be decided by a constitutional bench.
On November 7 previous year, the Kerala Government has announced in the court the women of all ages are permitted inside the historic Sabarimala temple. "Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry", the court had said. Meanwhile, the apex court had asked all the parties to submit their submissions. This customary ban had been codified in Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965. It violates the rights of women. "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations...", the apex court had said challenging the ban. This is the main reason for the dispute as women activists have questioned this as a clear practice of gender discrimination.
"Hoping a positive verdict, the women rights activist Brinda Adige had told Asian Age that for last few months, the SC had been giving positive, landmark and progressive verdicts".