New Delhi, Sep 28 (PTI) The Supreme Court, which delivered a landmark judgement on Friday paving the way for entry of women of all ages to the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala, noted in its verdict the conflicting stands taken by the state government on the issue over the years. Also Read - Amid COVID-19 Lockdown, Kerala Govt to Issue Liquor Passes For People With 'Withdrawal Symptoms'
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, has said that ban on entry of women into the shrine was gender discriminatory and violated the rights of Hindu women. Also Read - Back from The Brink of Death! 93-Year-Old Kerala Man Recovers From Coronavirus, Doctors Call it a 'Miracle'
The bench noted that the state of Kerala had taken contrary stands at different times. Also Read - Coronavirus Kerala: 'Used Soap And Water,' Say Kerala Officials After Video Emerges of People Being 'Disinfected'
An affidavit was filed on November 13, 2007 which indicated that the government was not in favour of discrimination towards any woman or any section of the society.
This was changed in the affidavit on February 5, 2016, taking the stand that the earlier affidavit was contrary to the judgment of the Kerala High Court.
“On November 7, 2016 on a query being made by the Court, the counsel for the state submitted that it wanted to place reliance on the original affidavit November 13, 2007,” the five-judge bench said.
“The stand of the state is that it does not conceive of any discrimination as regards the entry of women into the temple where male devotees can enter,” it noted.
The Kerala High Court had in 1991 upheld the age-old restriction on women of a certain age-group entering the temple.
Later, on August 4, 2006, the Indian Young Lawyers Association moved the apex court to the ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10 to 50.
The V S Achuthanandan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which was in power from 2006 to 2011, had in an affidavit filed on November 13, 2007, took a progressive stand and favoured the entry of all women inside the hill-top shrine.
But, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) headed by Oommen Chandy took a u-turn at the end of its term in 2016 and filed an affidavit in the apex court on February 5 that year saying the issue was a “matter of religion” and the government was duty bound to “protect the right to practice the religion of these devotees”.
The Oommen Chandy government, while withdrawing the affidavit filed earlier in the apex court by the previous LDF government in November 2007 supporting entry of women into this temple, said, “the restriction on women between the age of 10 and 50 has been prevailing in Sabarimala from time immemorial. This is in keeping with the unique ‘pratishta sangalp’ or idol concept of the temple.” The UDF government also said that the earlier stand had no legal basis and that it wanted to rectify the “mistakes” by withdrawing the stand of 2007.
However, after the state assembly elections in 2016 May, LDF government led by Pinarayi Vijayan took charge and in November 7, 2016, and the state filed a fresh affidavit saying it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple in the state.
The current dispensation said it will go by its original response filed in 2007 favouring entry of women in the temple premises.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.