National

Sabrimala Temple Case: Why Sole Female Judge Justice Indu Malhotra Said No

ANANYA BHATNAGAR | 0
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| September 28 , 2018 , 15:38 IST

Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge in the five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court which allowed the entry of women in the Sabrimala Temple disagreed to the majority judgment.

Justice Indu Malhotra observed issues of deep religious sentiments should not ordinarily be interfered in by the Court. The Sabarimala shrine and the deity has the protection under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India. Notion of rationality should not be seen in matters of religion. Court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion.

A five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court presided by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra were pronouncing the verdict in the Sabrimala Shrine Case.

The verdict came in 4:1 ratio wherein Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra read out the judgment on behalf of Justice RF Nariman, Justice Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and himself. The majority judgment struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 which was the basis for barring entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years to the Sabarimala temple.

While 4 male judges were in favour of the entry of women, the sole female judge Justice Indu Malhotra deferred from the majority’s view.

Justice Malhotra while pronouncing her dissenting verdict said, “What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the Court.”

She further added, “If there are clear attributes that there exists a section with identifiable characteristics, they constitute religious denomination.”

What is the Sabarimala Case?

A batch of petition was filed by a group of five lawyers. The petition challenges the Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises restriction on women “of menstruating age”.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who is representing the petitioners had argued that the restrictions went against Articles 14, 15 and 17 of the Constitution. She further alleged that the custom is discriminatory in nature and denounced women.

Senior Counsel Jaising further appealed the court that women should be allowed to pray at the place of their choice.

Equality Is Integral

Keeping in view that equality is the fundamental right of each and every citizen and an integral part of our constitution, the bench had observed “What applies to a man applies to a womanas well” and that once you open something for the public, anyone can go.

Justice DY CHandrachud in a previous hearing had said, “Your (intervener) right to pray being a woman, is equal to that of a man and it is not dependent on a law to enable you to do that.”