The heated dispute over providing women of all ages to participate in the hill reliquary of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala has apportioned public hypothesis on women’s equal passage to holy places and the maintenance of custom in points of worship.

Protagonists of gender equality demonstrate that the prohibition is an intrusion on women’s right to reach divine stations and a violation of Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 25(2) (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Indian Constitution, which preserves the right to freedom of belief for everyone, through providing idiocy to infiltrate the most learned society in the world.

Those disputing toward the entrance contest that it is against centuries-old practices. According to them, the admission of women would contaminate the temple, and the celibate persona of Ayyappa should be protected.

About the Judgement

The 2018 decision declared to be an achievement for women’s entry and was approved by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice RF Nariman, Justice DY Chadrachud, and Justice Indu Malhotra. The ruling encouraged to elevate the ban that prevented women from accessing the shrine of Lord Ayyappa. The five-Judges Bench held that this centuries-old Hindu spiritual method was unlawful and illegal and directed that Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorization) Rules, 1965should concede women, despite age, to reach the Sabarimala Temple.

After the ruling, there was a tremendous reaction from the verdict of the Apex Court, which moreover triggered huge protests by right-wing societies, established by political parties, who thought this an attack on Hindu sentiments and beliefs, thereby going against the law and after religious figures of not permitting women to access in the temple.


On 6th February 2019, the Apex Court possessed its decision on an appeal directing a review of the judgment of September 2018. The judgment of the Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Indu Malhotra, and Justices AM Khaniwilkar managed to perceive the appeal in command in the review ruling on the subject of women’s entry into the shrine as pending and additionally explained that constraints in religious communities have endured in various other regions. Approximately 65 petitions were lodged toward the 2019 judgment of the Apex Court-65 supplications for evaluation. On 14 November, the Supreme Court allowed the claims to a broader bench of 9 judges.

The Supreme Court determined on 3rd February 2020, that it would set out the legal issues to be determined by nine judges led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and Justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageshwara Rao, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, S. Abdul Nazeer, R. Shubhash Reddy, B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant. The interests will be based on religious distinction toward women in several areas, the entire argument that began in the matter of the Sabarimala Temple.

Issues Raised

On 10th February 2020, the Apex announced an order raising concerns for attention in the Sabarimala case. The following points are:

  • What is the extent and ambit of right to Freedom of Religion under Article 25of the Constitution of India?
  • What is the interaction among the rights of persons following Article 25 of the Constitution of India and the rights of religious classification under Article 26?
  • Whether the rights of a spiritual classification under Article 26of the Constitution are directed to other terms of Part III of the Constitution aside from public mandate, decency, and well-being?
  • What is the scope and range of the term ‘Morality’ under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and whether it is intended to cover Constitutional Morality?
  • What is the extent and scope of Judicial Review concerning religious tradition as confined to Article 25 of the Constitution?
  • What is the significance of the phrase “Sections of Hindus” befalling in Article25(2)(b)of the Constitution?
  • Whether a person not referring to a religious classification or spiritual society can seek a practice of that religious classification or religious association by registering a PIL.

Interpretation Made by Court

The term ‘ religion ‘ has not been described in the Constitution and is a phrase that is not subjected to any specific meaning. Notwithstanding, the Supreme Court has conferred this concept as a comprehensive expanse. The SC has noted “Spirituality is a matter Of belief with bodies or societies and it is not significantly theistic.

There are well-known religions in India like Jainism and Buddhism which do not consider in God or any Rational First Cause.” The right under Art. 25 is subject to the exemptions specified, presents a Fundamental Right on every person not solely—

  • to consider such religious faiths as are granted to him by his decision or morals, but also
  • to manifest his theories and concepts in such obvious or outer performances and practices as are allowed or forbidden by his religion, and moreover
  • to develop and propagate his religious opinions, thoughts, and judgments for the interest and enlightenment of others.

Consequently, the primary assurance of freedom of religion commenced out in Art. 25(1) implements even to customs and rituals connected with religion. The Supreme Court has declared in the case, Commr., HRE, Madras v. Sri Lakshimindra (AIR 1954 SC 282,290:1954 SCR 1002): “The guarantee beneath the Constitution of India, not only preserves the freedom of religious sentiment, but it guards also practices performed in pursuance of spirituality”.

Defining the extent of Art. 25, the Supreme Court has mentioned in the case, State of Rajasthan v. Sajjanlal (AIR 1975 SC 706 (1974) SC 282,290: 1954 SCR 1002)“Article 25, as its language magnifies, guarantees to every physique obedient to civil order, well-being and virtue, freedom not only to cherish his religious ideas, as may be accepted of by his decision and morals but also to manifest his faith in such action as he deems fit and to produce or propagate his thoughts for the improvement of others.”

The Rationale Behind the Prohibition of Women

First, Lord Ayyappa is and has eternally been, a celibate to date, and the main analysis following his celibacy is the word addressed to Malikapurathamma, that is, till the day he determines that he Kanni-swamis cease proceeding to his temple to remain a celibate. This myth has been followed for years and that if by any possibility, the Kanni-swamis had halted to proceed to devasthanam during the Mandalam era, it would be considered that the prohibition on women accessing the pilgrimage would have ceased. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa would wed Malikapurathamma after the period specified before, which would be a promising day for all believers. 

Secondly, the admission of women would harm the virtue of Brahmachariyam values. There has always been a spiritual exercise in the Hindu faith, which is based on four Ashramas, in which per person crosses through these stages through his or her existence. Lord Ayyappa is crossing through the first step of the Ashrama, that is, Brahmacharya. The value of being a Brahmacharya is to accomplish both spiritual and practical completion, in which one must rigorously follow the tradition of celibacy. Lord Ayyappa, who is a Naishtika Brahmachari, preserves the followers who visit the Temple and also takes about a shift in the evil perceptions of humanity. The logic behind the refusal of women’s admission is that it would not only cripple the virtue of devasthanam but would also influence the fundamental notion of being a Brahmachari.

Finally, the rationale following the constraint on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 was due to the menstruation cycle that each woman would experience after attaining puberty. The consequence of this constraint prevails in promoting the support granted to Malikapurathamma by Lord Ayyappa as a contingency for her wedding. It is assumed that all woman beneath the age of 10 and beyond the age of 50 is permitted to access the sannidhanam. The Travancore Devaswom Board composed it compulsory for every woman to display evidence of age to establish an end to the crises of women enrolling the temple by opposing the ban. Despite restricted women who have excluded their uterus are permitted to access the temple without any condition given that they have acquired the same medicinal record.


The Constitutional Bench announced laws and rules to be violative of primary rights and granted women of all age groups to access the temple. While explaining the significance of this subject Former Chief Justice, Dipak Misra pronounced” Wherever a man can access, also a woman can reach. What pertains to a man, pertains to a woman also.

Author: Varun Vikas Srivastav,
Amity Law School, Amity University Noida and 4th Year BBA.LLB

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