How is Menstruation Linked to Purity? SC Asks Sabarimala

Sabarimala temple management said women between 10 and 50 years of age cannot maintain “purity”.

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Supreme Court has questioned the ban on  women’s entry into Sabarimala temple. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

The Sabarimala temple management, on Monday, told the Supreme Court that the ban on entry of females aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” for 41 days on account of menstruation, prompting the judges to ask how periods could be linked to purity.

Senior Advocate KK Venugopal, who is representing the Travancore Devasom Board told the judges:

There is no gender discrimination. There is a reasonable classification by which certain class of women are excluded.

“What is the fulcrum of this classification,” the bench of three judges headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked.

Do you mean to say that mensuration is associated with purity of women? You are making a distinction based on purity...Now the question is whether the Constitutional principles allow this?
Bench of Judges

At the outset, Venugopal said women and men both are allowed entry into the temple and hence, there is no case of gender discrimination and that the females of a particular age group are not allowed due to the centuries-old custom.

There are as many as eight Lord Ayappa temples in Delhi and NCR region and women are allowed inside, he said, adding that the Sabarimala temple is different.

Women are allowed inside Sabarimala too, but they cannot climb eighteen sacred steps on the hill unless they maintain 41 days of purity, he said, 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 court is hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association seeking entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District.

The next date of hearing is set for 2 May.

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