Pause for Thought: Supreme Court's Verdict on Sabarimala
Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. LIII, No. 43, p. 12 (October 27, 2018)
5 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019
Date Written: October 27, 2018
The ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 years entering Sabarimala temple has been something of a sleeper scandal. For decades there has been a low-level disagreement within Kerala regarding the ban’s parameters and validity, but the issue received relatively little traction in the public sphere. Even after the High Court of Kerala’s decision in S Mahendran v Secretary, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and Others (1991) (henceforth Mahendran), debate over the nature and constitutionality of the ban remained relatively muted. All of this changed in 2006. For over a decade, and especially for the last few years, Sabarimala has consistently commanded attention at the state and national levels. Moreover, and notwithstanding a lengthy Supreme Court verdict, public interest in the ban shows no signs of waning. This article examines some of the arguments and implications of the apex court’s decision in the India Young Lawyers Association (IYLA) v State of Kerala. While the Court’s conclusion was both unsurprising and easily justified given the constitutional principles and existing precedent, its analysis—and occasionally, the lack thereof—ought to give observers a pause regardless of where they stand with respect to the ban.
Keywords: secularism, freedom of religion, India, temples
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