The dualism that persists in religion by glorifying and venerating women as goddesses on one hand and by imposing rigorous sanctions on the other hand in matters of devotion has to be abandoned.
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women. Similar to the president of the Travancore Devasom Board president, he said that the temple may have to implement the verdict.
The petition assailing the above Rule and seeking the lifting of the ban on entry of women was filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association in Supreme Court more than a decade ago - in 2006.
Among the five-judge bench, Justice Indu Malhotra gives lone dissent and said that religious communities should decide their respective religious practices, not the court. Gopalakrishnan is famous for saying that women will be allowed into the temple only after a machine is invented which will detect if it is "the right time" for the woman. SC said that practice of exclusion can not be regarded as essential religious practice, and this custom is not backed by Article 25 and 26 of the constitution, which are related to the right of freedom to practice any religion and religious practices.
Kerala Religious Trusts Minister Kadakampally Surendran Friday hailed the Supreme Court's verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple as "historic", while the shrine's head priest called it "disappointing". India was a land of diverse faiths. "The court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion".
The case made headlines last month when a regional newspaper editor blamed devastating floods in Kerala on women wanting to enter Sabarimala.
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"Historically women have been treated with inequality", said Dipak Misra, India's chief justice, in one of his final judgments before he steps down next week.
The decision came after a number of women from the banned age group were detained while entering Sabarimala.
Stating that "law and society are tasked with the task to act as levelers", CJI Misra said "dualistic approach against women degrades the status of women". Another judge, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had stated that the right to pray is equal for both men and women.
"In the theatre of life, it seems, man has put the autograph and there is no space for a woman even to put her signature. If unfortunately, the verdict goes against us we have already arranged and we are thinking of giving a review petition", according to news agency ANI.
The battle in court reflected a wider split among India's women, pitting rival women's campaigns against against one another.
The golden-roofed temple, which is thought to be more than 800 years old, is considered the spiritual home of Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu god of growth.