Sabarimala Row: Ban is based on celibate nature of Ayyappa, claims lawyer
The prohibition on the entry of women of a certain age into the Sabarimala temple is not a misogynous move, but the celibate nature of the deity prohibits women from entering the temple, senior advocate K. Parasaran, appearing for the Nair Service Society, argued in Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Addressing a Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, he disagreed with the court’s observations about extending Article 25 (2) (b) — opening of temples to women in the name of social reform and welfare.
According to K Parasaran, he argued in the Supreme Court on the following points
“The Article holds that the freedom of conscience and religion will not stand in the way of any law mandating the “throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”
Mr. Parasaran saidm “Unlike what the court believes, this Article addresses the caste system and not gender. It was meant to allow Hindus of all castes into temples. It was a weapon against the yesteryear practice of denying “lower caste Hindus” entry into temples. The Article does not extend to women. It does not mention gender. In short, the basis of the Article is the abolition of caste-based exclusion and not gender-based exclusion.”
Countering the court’s earlier observations that it would lift the ban on women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple on the basis of Article 25(2)(b), Mr. Parasaran explained that this Article speaks of “Hindu religious institutions.” Had the Article meant women, it would have encompassed all other religions. The fact that it mentions only temples means it is only intended to abolish the caste-based discrimination.
Advocate Parasaran also pointed out how Article 15(2) of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of caste, gender and religion, does not include religious institutions on its list of “public places.” “Article 15 (2) says no citizen should be restricted access to public places. Religious institutions are missing from the rather long list of public places mentioned in the Article, he said, countering the Bench’s observations that the Sabarimala temple was a public place and women could not be denied entry there”, alleged Parasaran.
Parasaran appealed to the Court to respect the traditions and customs of the people. He said the Lord Ayyappa at the Sabarimala temple is a “Naishtika Brahmachari” and devotees who come to offer him worship should appear to be brahmacharis. Hinduism, he said, is a faith of tolerance and not discriminatory.
He argued saying that women in Kerala are well-respected and follow the Matriarchal societal norms, but the fact that they don’t enter Sabarimala temple is due to them cherishing their customs and traditions.