Five judges to decide on Hindu women's right to temple

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On February 20, the court had reserved its order on whether to refer the matter to a constitutional bench.

"We will not allow Sabarimala to turn a Thailand", said Gopalakrishnan at a press meet. "Even if the court approves of the decision to allow entry, no devout and decent woman in this age group is going to come.", said Gopalakrishnan, a former Congress legislator.

The case in this regard is going on since 2016 when a petitioner filed a plea against ban on entry of menstruating women in the Kerala temple.

On 11 January, the court had questioned the ban, saying this can not be done under the Constitution.

The management of the temple had stated that ban on entry of women was because they can not maintain "purity" on account of menstruation.

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Matters that related to fundamental rights contained in the Constitution of India are decided by specially empowered benches known as constitutional benches. It said for several centuries, it has been a practice in the temple located in a forest-notified area to restrict the entry of women who are in the age group of 10-50 years as the deity did not want his penance to be disturbed. "If women came for Darshan we will find it hard to arrange security", he said.

The top court said the constitution bench will also deal with the question of whether this practice amounts to discrimination against the women, PTI reported.

The Kerala government informed the court that women of all ages should be allowed entry and worship at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple without any restriction. The Constitution Bench will decide whether Ayyappa devotees frame a different religious category by themselves.

The petition argued that the ban, enforced by Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965, was unconstitutional insofar as it violated Articles 14 (equality before law), 25 and 26 (freedom of religion).

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