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SC asks Sabrimala: How menstruation associated with women’s purity?

New Delhi: The Supreme Court asked Travancore Devasvom Board, which manages Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, to explain the basis on which it associates menstruation with the purity of women on Monday.

When they justified ban on the entry of females in the age group of 10-50, by saying it is an age-old practice and they also said that women cannot maintain purity for 41 days such restrictions were followed in other religious places too.

A bench of justices Dipak Misra, V Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph asked the Sabarimala temple management “Can a biological phenomenon be condition precedent for discrimination?”

The bench said “Do you to mean to say that menstruation is associated with purity of women? You are making distinction based on purity… Now the question is whether the Constitutional principles allow this.”

The temple board said that the ban was not discrimininatory but based on “reasonable classification”. When PIL has challenged it on the ground that it violates a woman’s constitutional right to pray.

A senior advocate KK Venugopal, representing the board, said the court that. “There is no gender discrimination. There is a reasonable classification by which a certain class of women is excluded.”

He said the Sabarimala temple is different.
Women are allowed inside in Sabarimala also, but they cannot climb eighteen sacred steps on the hill unless they maintain 41 days of purity, adding that the High
Court verdict, favouring the practice, is a judgment “in rem” (continuity) and the apex court should not re-examine it by entertaining a PIL.

The arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on May 2. The court had earlier observed the gender equality is a “constitutional message”. The court had also said that denying women the right to
enter and pray in the historic temple cannot be justified on the basis of traditions which violated constitutional principle.