Constitution Bench starts hearing Sabarimala entry case

A Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday commenced hearing the question whether the fundamental right of women to pray at the Sabarimala temple amounts to discrimination “on a biological factor exclusive to female gender”. The Supreme Court will scrutinise the age-old prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 — that is, those who are in the menstruating age — from entering the temple.

The Supreme Court had in its reference to the larger Bench in October last year questioned how a temple managed by a statutory board – Travancore Devaswom Board — and financed by the State government “can indulge in practices violating constitutional principles/ morality”.

The temple authorities had justified the ban, saying it was an age-old practice founded in tradition.

The larger Bench will decide whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an "essential religious practice".

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