Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To End Discriminatory Practices In All Religions

Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To End Discriminatory Practices In All Religions

Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition seeking an end to gender-discriminatory practices in all faiths and make acts of discrimination a penal offence.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and VK Rao refused to entertain the plea saying it lacked “territorial jurisdiction”.

“Petitioner has not indicated which of the temples mentioned in the petition is under the jurisdiction of this court. None of the temples indicated here are within the territorial jurisdiction of this court. We are not inclined to entertain it. The petition is dismissed,” the bench said

Sanjjiiv Kkumaar, a social activist & director of an NGO Knewmax Benevolent Foundation, has moved the petition seeking directions to end various discriminatory practices such as isolation that menstruating women suffer in their houses due to bar on them cooking or entering kitchen etc.

He also sought directions to ensure that menstruating/non-menstruating women of any religion can enter and pray at men-only temple anywhere in India and that men be allowed to pray in ‘women-only’ Attukal Temple, Chakkulathukavu Temple, Santoshi Maa ‘Vrat’, Lord Brahma Temple, Bhagati Maa Temple, Mata temple and Kamrup Kamakhya Temple.

He also prayed against bar on entry of women (of any religion) in mosques and the bar on women being ordained as priests in the Parsi and Christian faiths.

The petitioner stressed on the need to end various discriminatory practices in different faiths through a combined reading of the Supreme Court verdict in the Privacy judgment and the Sabarimala judgment (Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors Vs The State of Kerala & Ors).

While quoting extensively from the Sabarimala judgment, the petitioner stressed that the apex court has held that denial of right to pray of menstruating women is a form of untouchability.

He then relied on the privacy judgment to say that “social exclusion of women on their Right to Pray, based on menstrual status, and their non-ordination to Ministerial and Priestly Offices such as but not limited to Priest, Bishops, Deacon, Imams, Purohit, Pujaris, Monks etc in Hindu Temples, Mosque, Churches, Jain Temples, Bodh Temples, Fire Temples, Tower of Silence etc , where men are allowed to hold the given positions, violates Right to Privacy Judgement ( Bodily Integrity of Women)”.

Kkumaar said he was shocked at the comment made by Smriti Z Irani, Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles, who had, on October 23, tweeted that “As a practising Hindu married to a practising Zoroastrian I am not allowed to enter a fire temple to pray”.

He then went on to quote a tweet by senior advocate Indira Jaising wherein she had stated thus: ““Menstruation is the body’s way of maintaining a reproductive balance and cannot be the basis of social exclusion. Thrilled that Justice DY Chandrachud accepted my argument it is a form of untouchability”.

Here are the practices that the petitioner has sought an end to: 

*Bar on menstruating/non-menstruating women of any religion to enter and pray at Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Temple of Silence.

 * Bar on women of any religion from entering and praying at men only temple anywhere in India.

*Bar on men from entering women-only Attukal Temple, Chakkulathukavu Temple, Santoshi Maa ‘Vrat’, Lord Brahma Temple, Bhagati Maa Temple, Mata temple and Kamrup Kamakhya Temple

*Bar on entry of women in mosque to pray alongside men on Friday (Salat) and non- Friday prayers.

*Restriction on Muslim women to observe fast and offer prayer in Mosque during menstruation.

*Restriction on women of Hindu religion to observe fast, enter kitchen, offer prayers or go to any place during menstruation.

*Bar on women professing Zoroastrian/Parsi religion from being ordained as priest.

*Bar on Hindu women from being ordained as pujari/purohit/head of akhara.

*Bar on Muslim women from being ordained to Imams of Mosque and lead mixed gender congregation of Friday Salat (prayer) and non-Friday prayers.

*Bar on women professing Christianity religion from being ordained as priest, bishop, deacon.

With PTI inputs