New Delhi: The ongoing hearings in the row over restricting the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple saw the Supreme Court raise some pertinent questions to the temple administration which has defended its position not to allow the entry of women in the name of age-old tradition.
Contending that a biological phenomenon cannot be the basis for discriminating against women, the apex court said, “Are you associating menstruation with purity of women? Can a biological phenomenon be condition precedent for discrimination?"
The temple administration of Sabarimala had remained adamant on subjecting its women devotees to perform austere activities to gain entry into the temple. “If men can go till a point (near the temple) without undertaking austere activities, why can't women go? If tests of austerity apply to men, why can't women undertake them?” the apex court said while addressing the temple trust of Sabarimala
The temple trust has cited tradition to defend its decision against any changes in the matter of allowing women entry into the revered temple. “The hill where women aren't allowed is sanctified. The tradition dates back hundreds of years,” it said.
Every affirmative action has another side too, it said.
“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. BCCI spends money on training only cricketers below 30 years of age,” it told the SC.
The temple trust further sought to distance itself from being categorised along with the Shani Shignapur temple in Nasik. "Don't compare us to Shani temple where women are banned in totality. In Sabarimala women are only classified into two categories and not banned entirely as Lord Aiyappa took vow of celibacy,” it said.
The court responded by saying that all practices are acceptable till there is no distinction between genders.
Earlier, the court had said gender equality was a “constitutional message” and ban on entry of women of a particular age group in Sabarimala shrine cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management.
On January 11, the apex court had questioned the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age group at the Lord Ayyappa temple, while hearing the PIL.