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The Supreme Court today (October 13) referred the matter pertaining to a ban on the entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple to a constitution bench.

Earlier, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan had reserved its verdict on the plea as it involved important questions of law and the interpretation of the constitution.

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution.

The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation. Girls and women of menstruating age are not allowed in the premises of the temple, which houses Lord Ayyappan.

RP Gupta, the counsel for the petitioners, submitted in court that there is no religious custom or usage in the Hindu religion specially in Pampa river region to disallow women during menstrual period.

The management of the Sabarimala temple had told the apex court that it had banned the entry of women because they can't maintain their "pureness" on account of menstruation. The Constitution of India guarantees this right too. You can not refuse entry to a woman who comes there ... It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

"A temple is a public religious place".

A hope for a positive and landmark judgment in the matter was expressed by women right activist on Friday.

The question that has been raised is: Does this ban on admission to the temple, on the basis of medical reasons of the woman violate the rights of equality?

Questioning the age-old custom, the Supreme Court in July had said, "A temple is a public religious place and can not refuse entry to a woman. Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations...", the apex court had said challenging the ban.

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? The court will be going great injustice to millions of devotees if it interferes and will set a precedent which will seriously affect other religious institutions, the board asked.


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