The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that all women canenter Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple.
A five-judge Constitution bench—comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra—had reserved its judgement on a bunch of petitions on 1 August after hearing the case for eight days in July.
CJI Misra pronounced the judgement on behalf of himself and Justice Khanwilkar. Justices Nariman and Chandrachud concurred, while Justice Malhotra had a dissenting opinion.
"Patriarchy of religion cannot be allowed to trump over faith," said Misra.
The physiological feature of menstruating has nothing to do with women's right to pray, said Justice Nariman.
However, Justice Malhotra said in her dissenting opinion that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court, and that what constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not the court.
The petitions had challenged the ban on entry of menstruating women—aged between 10 and 50—into the temple, which worships Lord Ayyappan.
The decision is guaranteed to cause a furore in Kerala, where many men as well as women consider allowing women into Sabarimala to be against "god's will".
The main petitioner in the case, Indian Young Lawyers' Association, had filed a public interest litigation in 2006, asking for the ban to be revoked.
The Sabarimala temple, in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, holds great religious and cultural significance and people from around the world make the long, arduous journey to pray there every year during Mandala Kaalam, the main auspicious period for the temple. Men of all ages and religions are allowed to enter the temple.