Women of all ages can enter Sabarimala temple

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The CJI said religion is a way of life basically to link life with divinity.

Four judges supported the lifting of ban whereas Justice Indu Malhotra proposed a dissenting opinion supporting the ban.

"Judicial review of religious practices ought not to be undertaken, as the court can not impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity. Women would accept it, but its implementation might pose a problem", she said. It will have far reaching implications for other places of worships.

The Kerala unit of Shiv Sena on Saturday announced a statewide shutdown on Monday to protest the Supreme Court verdict throwing open the Sabarimala temple to all women. The CJI said devotion can not be subjected to discrimination and patriarchal notion can not be allowed to trump equality in devotion.

"Special arrangements have to be worked for separate queues for women and all such issues concerning women devotees", said Mr Behra. Doing so would negate the freedom to practise one's religion according to one's faith and beliefs.

The Supreme Court had in August said women had the constitutional right to enter Sabarimala temple and pray like men without being discriminated against.

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But women belonging to Bharat Hindu Munnani offered prayers in temples of Tamil Nadu by holding lamps and seemed to oppose the latest verdict by the Supreme Court.

The authorities at the Sabarimala temple, which attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year, have said the ban on women and girls aged from 10 to 50 was essential to the rites related to the temple's chief deity Ayyappan, considered eternally celibate. Justice Chandrachud said religion can not be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity.

The judgment was not a surprise - in the last two years, activists have won challenges to similar bans on women in the inner sanctums of two other temples and a landmark mosque in Mumbai. The temple's authorities say they will appeal the ruling.

She held that the prohibition on women of a menstruating age did not upset the constitutional right to equality as the practice was protected by yet another constitutional right to practice one's religion.

It is not for the courts to determine which of these practices of a faith are to be struck down, except if they are pernicious, oppressive, or a social evil, like Sati, she opined.

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