The Supreme Court’s five judges constitutional bench in a 4:1 verdict, gave a green signal to women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple premises. The bench said, banning the entry of women is gender discrimination, and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman on the bench, gave a parallel dissenting verdict. She said “An equality doctrine cannot override the fundamental right to worship under Article 25. Notions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion.” She was of the view that it’s not for the courts to decide which religious practices are to be struck down except in the issue of social evils like ‘Sati’.
And I concur with her. I don’t feel there is any need for the Supreme Court to align every other religious practice with the provisions of Article 14 (Right To Equality) of the constitution.
Religion is a very sensitive affair. Rituals and practices have existed for centuries. And people have identified with them ever since their birth. I do believe that with changing times, rules should also change. They should be modified as per the needs and progress of the society — but, it should be done sensitively.
There are temples in Kerala viz. Bhagati Maa temple and Attukal temple, which bars the entry of male worshippers. It does so, because of the distinct nature of the deity. The priests of the temple don’t want to cripple this distinctness. And as we know, this distinctness is the quintessence of diversity – which further, is the beauty of India.
I don’t think the Supreme Court should interfere in any way — to reframe the rules of certain religious institutions. If those rules are not exceedingly derogatory for a particular gender or are not felonious; it should not be tinkered with.
Justice Indu Malhotra also added that the issue, in this case, is not limited to Sabarimala. This is important, as I have never heard anybody saying anything, about the discriminatory rule where males are prohibited in temples. I hope that the verdict affects the discriminatory rules of such temples too.
Again, I never wanted this verdict, but since it’s a reality. It should be applicable everywhere.