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Sabarimala verdict: Shiv Sena calls for 12 hours strike in Kerala

Sabarimala verdict: Shiv Sena calls for 12 hours strike in Kerala

Religion is a way to link life with divinity, said CJI Misra.

The verdict was pronounced by the bench presided by CJI Dipak Misra and comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, in which Justice Malhotra had a dissenting view.

Rahul Easwar, one of the main activists who backed the Sabarimala ban, said he would appeal to the Supreme Court for a review before the temple reopens next month.

Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge on the bench, dissented with the majority verdict, saying courts must not interfere with issues concerning "deep religious sentiments".

"All devotees are equal and there can not be any discrimination on the basis of gender", Misra said.

Three years ago, the Sabarimala temple chief said he would allow women to enter the shrine only after a scanner was invented to detect if they were "pure"- meaning they weren't menstruating. Discrimination against menstruating women is prevalent in many communities in India that consider them impure and restrict them from religious rituals.

"So the Supreme Court verdict will not make much of difference this time". "The ban says presence of women deviates from celibacy".

During the hearing, the Supreme Court said "What applies to a man, applies to a woman".

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Justice Chandrachud said any custom or religious practice that violates dignity of women by denying them entry because of her physiology is unconstitutional.

Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala and is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, with an estimated over 100 million devotees visiting every year.

"We wholeheartedly welcome this progressive and far-reaching decision in case of entry into Sabarimala temple". He observed that irrespective of the status of a woman, menstruation has been equated with impurity, and the idea of impurity is then used to justify their exclusion from key social activities.

The top court's verdict is part a string of recent rulings that recognize more rights of women, challenging deeply conservative Indian society.

Also, in the past two years, courts have unlocked the gates of Shani Shingnapur temple and Haji Ali mosque for women.

The struggle for equal access to places of worship in India has triggered a wider debate on women's rights in the country.

On the conclusion of the hearing, the constitution bench had made it clear that it would decide the issue based on constitutional provisions and not by the statues enacted by the state - Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institution Act, 1950 and Kerala Hindu Places of Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act, 1965.


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