11/01/2016 6:36 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Supreme Court Says Sabarimala Temple Cannot Ban Entry Of Women

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KUMILY, INDIA - JANUARY 06: Indian hindu devotees celebrating Lord Ayyappa on their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple festival in Kumily. on January 06, 2010 in Kumily near Trivandrum, Kerala, South India. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court today questioned the age-old tradition of banning entry of women of menstrual age group in historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala, saying it cannot be done under the Constitution.

"The temple cannot prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry. Anyway, we will examine it on February 8," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said.

The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by the Young Lawyers Association, seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises.

However, women, who have crossed menopause, are allowed.

During the brief hearing today, the bench posed a query as to why women cannot be allowed inside and observed that the practice was not supported by the constitutional scheme.

It asked the government whether it was sure that women have not entered the temple premises in the last 1,500 years.

The bench also observed that it was a public temple and everyone needed to have "the right to access". At best, there can be religious restrictions and not a general restriction, it said.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Kerala, said the women, who have not attained menopause, cannot preserve the purity during the religious journey to the temple, located on a hilltop, which usually spans 41 days.

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