Citation- (2019) eleven SCC 1; 2018 (8) SCJ 609


Bench (Judges)- Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohintom Fali Nariman, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud & Justice Indu Malhotra

Petitioner– Indian Young Lawyers Association, Dr Laxmi Shastiri, Prerna Kumari, Alka Sharma, Sudha Pal

Respondent– State of Kerala, Travancore Devaswom Board, Chief Tanthri of Sabarimala Temple, District Magistrate of Pathanamthitta, Nair Service Society, Akhil Bhartiya Ayyappa Seva Sangham, Ayyappa Seva Samithi, Ayyappa Pooja Samithi, Dharma Sanstha Seva Samajam, Akhil Bharatiya Malayalee Sangh, Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam, Kerala Kshetra Samarak Shana Samithi, Pandalam Kottaram Nirvahaka Sangham, Sabrimala Custom Protection Forum.

Summary of Facts

There is a Hindu Temple devoted to Ayyappan named Sabarimala shrine inside the State of Kerala. It is a temple positioned at Sabarimala interior the Periyar Tiger Reserve in ‘Pathanamthitta’ district of Kerala.

The Sabarimala shrine, which is one amongst the essential well-known temples in Kerala, had restrained girls (of menstruating age) from entry.

Several girls tried to enter the Temple however could not due to threats of bodily assault towards them.

A team of 5 ladies legal professionals had moved the Apex Court difficult the preference of the Kerala supreme courtroom which upheld the centuries-old restriction, and dominated that solely the “Tantrik (Priest)” used to be empowered to determine on traditions.

Issues Raised

The troubles raised in this case were:-

1. The rule that disallows girls from getting into temples for the sake of customized was once challenged so on show that it violates Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution on the grounds of sex.

2. Whether the exercise constitutes an ‘essential non secular practice’ underneath Article 25?

3. Whether a religious organization should assert its declare to attempt to to so below the suited to control its very own affairs inside the things of religion?

4. Whether the exclusionary exercise supported a organic component one-of-a-kind to the female gender quantities to ‘discrimination’?

5. Whether Sabarimala temple had a denominational character?

Findings of the Court-

(1) The devotees of Lord Ayyappa do now not fulfill the judicially enunciated necessities to represent a spiritual denomination below Article 26 of the Constitution;

(2) A declare for the exclusion of ladies from non secular worship, albeit it is centered in sacred textual content , is subordinate to the constitutional values of liberty, dignity and equality. Exclusionary practices are opposite to constitutional morality;

(3) In any event, the exercise of apart from female from the temple at Sabarimala isn’t always an vital non secular practice? The Court ought to decline to provide constitutional legitimacy to practices which derogate from the dignity of women and to their entitlement to an equal citizenship;

(4) The social exclusion of ladies , supported menstrual status, may additionally be a kind of untouchability which is an anathema to constitutional values. Notions of “purity and pollution”, which stigmatize individuals, have not any region all through a constitutional order;

(5) The notifications dated 21 October 1955 and 27 November 1956 issued with the aid of the Devaswom Board, prohibiting the entry of female between the a while of ten and fifty, are extremely vires Section three of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act 1965 and are even in any other case unconstitutional; and

(6) Hindu girls represent a ‘section or class’ of Hindus beneath clauses (b) and (c) of Section two of the 1965 Act. Rule 3(b) of the 1965 Rules enforces a customized opposite to Section three of the 1965 Act. This immediately offends the suitable of temple entry installed via Section three Rule 3(b) is extremely vires the 1965 Act.


The Court delivered its verdict in Sabarimala Temple Entry. A 4:1 majority held that the temple’s exercise of except for ladies is unconstitutional. It held that the exercise violated the elemental proper to freedom of trust – Article 25(1) – of lady worshippers. It struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Act as unconstitutional. Rule 3(b) allowed for Hindu denominations to cut out ladies from public locations of worship, if the exclusion used to be supported ‘custom’.

The Court delivered four separate opinions: choose Misra, Justice Nariman, Justice Chandrachud, Justice Malhotra. Justice Nariman & Justice Chandrachud concurred with the opinion of Chief Justice Misra. The opinion inside the case was once delivered by way of Justice Indu Malhotra.


The complete difficulty revolves spherical the barring of female aged between 10 – 50 years, into the temple and this exercise is violative of Fundamental Rights and freedom of female . The difficulty isn’t always solely about the rights enshrined inside the Constitution for the women however it spreads plenty farther than this. It additionally worries women’s dignity and self-respect. This discrimination types the very groundwork of this entire debate. This very way of life is towards the spirit of Articles 14, 15, 17 and 25. This culture no longer solely indicates them incapable guys inside the eyes of the society, discriminates with them and takes away their proper to exercise their faith however it additionally violates their Right to Privacy granted to them beneath Article 21 of the constitution, as it includes involuntary disclosure of their menstruating details. These acts are now not solely constitutionally invalid however are additionally morally corrupt and demeaning. India which is a land the place on the one hand we say that we worship our girls in our homes and temples and declare them goddesses and on the other, we even refuse to renowned their Fundamental Human Rights and make them sense socially outcast, there may be no surety that in following these two contradicting paths the place are we main ourselves however there is one element positive that this course is nowhere main us closer to a developed future which is preferred by way of all.


Altogether the regulation interpreted beneath this case is a proper law. After 12 years of the litigatory struggle, ladies have located their rightful freedom, equality, and dignity as below Article 14, 15, 21, and 25 of the Indian constitution. The Sabarimala judgment is testamentary of the Apex Court’s impeccable staying power and clear judicial interpretation of legal guidelines in the hobby of the generic public good. Vices and unreasonable stigma will continually exist in society however it is the regulation that can furnish treatment to such unreasonableness.

Customs can’t override the law. The material of regulation can’t be crumpled for the sake of obstructive social stigma.

Women have been discriminated now not solely on the groundwork of organic elements however additionally due to orthodox unwell practices of the Hindu religion. The charter of India prescribes non-discriminatory rights to all residents regardless of status, age, sex, caste, creed, gender, etc. Only advantageous discrimination is allowed on the foundation of the interpretation precept of sensible classification. Judicial activism has performed an essential function in this case. The Indian Judiciary has as soon as once more proved its open judicial thinking and that the blind and technical software of old-fashioned legal guidelines leads to unjust movements and prohibitions. The legislature now desires to make certain that there is no unreasonable controversy between spiritual practices and integral rights. Any such Controversy wishes to be abrogated via non secular reforms.

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