• Thursday, 21 February 2019

Devaswom Board changes stance, backs entry of women in Sabarimala temple

New Delhi, Feb 6 : The Devaswom Board, managing the affairs of Lord Ayyappa's Sabarimala temple, on Wednesday joined Kerala government in supporting the entry of women of all ages in the temple, saying that any practice has to be consistent with the dominant theme of the Constitution -- "all persons are equally entitled".

The Devaswom Board spelt out its new position before the five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra as it opposed a batch of petitions seeking the review of the judgment permitting women of all age groups to enter the temple.

Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for the Devaswom Board focused on constitutional morality, which he said was not subjective but founded on Article 14, 15, 17, 21 and Article 25, and subject to other fundamental rights.

Pointing to human dignity, Dwivedi said: "Practices prevailing in our temples should be in conformity with the constitutional morality."

At this, Justice Indu Malhotra, who had delivered a dissenting judgment favouring non-interference with the prevailing practice, asked Dwivedi: "There's a change in stand of Devaswom Board. You had argued otherwise."

"Now the Board has taken a decision to respect the judgment," Dwivedi replied.

Although the Devaswom Board on Wednesday stated for the first time its changed position before the court, earlier it had sought an explanation from the Tantri for closing the temple for a while to undertake its purification including the sanctum sanctorum after two women of the menstruating age had entered the temple and offered prayers.

Earlier during the Wednesday's hearing, the Kerala government opposed the review petitions, saying that there was no need to review the judgment as unconstitutional practices could not be allowed to go on.

The state government's stand came with an assurance that "social peace would eventually prevail".



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