All women may pray at Sabarimala

The Supreme Court dismissed the argument that the prohibition was an essential part of religion. The Chief Justice said the inclusion of women, rather than their exclusion, is the essential part of the Hindu religion.
‘Nature not changed’
“By allowing women to enter Sabarimala temple for offering prayers, it cannot be imagined that the nature of Hindu religion would be fundamentally altered or changed in any manner,” Chief Justice Misra wrote. The court held that Ayyappans (devotees of Lord Ayyappa) do not form a separate religious denomination. Sabarimala temple is a public religious endowment. There are no exclusive identified followers of the cult. There is no identified group called Ayyappans. “The devotees of Lord Ayyappa are exclusively Hindus and do not constitute a separate religious denomination,” the Chief Justice wrote. Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, in his concurring opinion, held the right to practise religion, as claimed by the thanthris and worshippers, must be balanced with and yield to the fundamental right of women between the ages of 10 and 50. The prohibition violated Section 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965, which stated that “places of public worship” like the Sabarimala temple should be open to “all sections and classes of Hindus.” Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Constitution Bench, dissented with the majority opinion. She held that the determination of what constituted an essential practice in a religion should not be based on the “personal views” of judges. She held that essentiality of a religious practice or custom had to be decided within the religion.
‘Personal faith’
“It is a matter of personal faith. India is a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gives freedom to practise even irrational or illogical customs and usages”, Justice Malhotra said.
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