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SC to Sabrimala temple: Can a biological phenomenon be a reason for discrimination?

Voicing support for women who are fighting to end discrimination in Hindu culture and their right to enter places of worships, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned how the temple authorities can discriminate on the basis of biological phenomenon.

SC to Sabrimala temple-AV

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.

Responding to the court queries, the temple administration said that the hill where women aren’t allowed is sanctified and the tradition not allowing women in the age group of 10 to 50, dates back hundreds of years and cannot be changed.

“When recruitment for the armed forces takes place, citizens between 18-24 years of age are considered. It may seem classification amongst men, but reason is endurance”, Sabarimala temple administration told the apex court.

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.

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