A Three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday referred the matter relating to the entry of women to Sabarimala Temple for the consideration of Constitution Bench.
Noting that the issue at hand is sensitive and important, a bench of CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Banumati and Ashok Bhushan said several issues have been framed for the consideration of the Constitution Bench.
The Bench has referred the following questions to the Constitution Bench
1 Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to "discrimination" and thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected by ‘morality’ as used in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution?
2.Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an "essential religious practice" under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can 30 assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion?
3.Whether Ayyappa Temple has a denominational character and, if so, is it permissible on the part of a 'religious denomination' managed by a statutory board and financed under Article 290-A of the Constitution of India out of Consolidated Fund of Kerala and Tamil Nadu can indulge in such practices violating constitutional principles/ morality embedded in Articles 14, 15(3), 39(a) and 51-A(e)?
4.Whether Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules permits 'religious denomination' to ban entry of women between the age of 10 to 50 years? And if so, would it not play foul of Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the ground of sex?
5.Whether Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965 is ultra vires the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 and , if treated to be intra vires, whether it will be violative of the provisions of Part III of the Constitution?
During the last hearing the bench asked the parties, including the amicus curiae, to furnish questions which can be referred to the larger bench if it eventually decides that way.
In February, 2017 the bench headed by justice Dipak Misra reserved the verdict on the question whether the matter should go to a larger bench or not.
“It is hereby directed that the Ld counsels for the parties shall file written submissions/ questions which should fall under the constitutional framework, that is likely to be referred to the larger bench”, the bench said.
The apex court had on July 11, 2016 also indicated that it may refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of the centuries-old practice of barring entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the historic Sabarimala temple, saying it pertains to violation of fundamental rights.
Read The Judgment Here