Supreme Court of India.
In January 2016, the court had questioned the ban, saying this could not be done under the Constitution.
The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism. They framed several questions to be dealt with by the Constitution Bench, including whether the temple can restrict women's entry. Further, Sabarimala is not a denominational temple but a temple for all Hindus and, therefore, Article 26 (b) (giving such protection) is not attracted.
On November 7 previous year, the Kerala Government has announced in the court the women of all ages are permitted inside the historic Sabarimala temple. So Women should be permitted inside the Sabarimala temple. In November previous year, after the Left government took charge in Kerala, there was a U-turn by the state government from its earlier stance and the affidavit stated that it was ready to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.
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Speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, Gopalakrishnan said that there are going to be huge security issues if all women are allowed entry. This is the main reason for the dispute as women activists have questioned this as a clear practice of gender discrimination.
As was usual for Buddhist monasteries in the middle ages, women were not allowed admission to a place inhabited exclusively by celibate monks. "Unless you have a constitutional right, you can not prohibit entry", the court had said. It said that the government was sticking to its 2007 stand, when it filed an affidavit seeking the removal of the ban.
The larger Bench will choose whether the restriction on ladies to enter the sanctuary qualifies as a "essential religious practice" of the Hindu faith over which the summit court has no ward.
Meanwhile, Kerala Minister for Devaswom and Tourism Kadakampally Surendran said he had insulted the women community and Ayyappa devotees with such a comparison. And if so, would it not run afoul of Articles 14 and 15 (3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the ground of sex?