INDIAN YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCIATION v. STATE OF KERALA & Ors

CITATION: Writ Petition (Civil) No 373 of 2006

PETITIONER: INDIAN YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

RESPONDENT: STATE OF KERALA & Ors

BENCH: Justices AM Khanwilkar, Rohinton Nariman, DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, and Dipak Mishra


INTRODUCTION

Sabarimala Temple or Dharmasastha Sabarimala Temple is located at Sabarimala in the Pathanamthitta which is geographically located in Kerala.

This temple is located at peak of a hilltop whose altitude is 1535 feet and is devoted to Lord Ayyapan.

The landmark judgment of this case (Indian Young Lawyer’s Association v/s State of Kerala and ors) dealt with the issue in which women between the age of (10 – 50) were not allowed to enter the temple.

On 28th September 2018 supreme court ruled the restriction on the entry of women into the temple unconstitutional.


TIMELINE

In 1990 an appeal was filed in the high court of Kerala to uplift the restriction of the entrance of women into the Sabarimala temple. In 1991 Kerala court didn’t uplift the restriction but supported it. After some event in 2006, a pretention was filed in court by an Indian young lawyer’s association to allow the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. In 2018 Supreme court allowed the entry of women into the temple but along with it, an appeal was filed for review.


Case facts

Sabarimala temple is a temple of the great ancient past and is devoted to lord Ayyappa. Believers of the lord Ayyappa have to follow a strict ‘vratam’ for 41 days with all sets of practices. Those who follow vratam are supposed to wear black clothes and cut all ties with their families for 41 days.

It is claimed that deviation from asceticism happens due to the presence of women. Women were not allowed to enter the premises of the temple due to their phycological factors and they were also considered weak. Women were also considered as weak while they were mensurating and due to all these entries, women aged between 10-50 were restricted by the temple authorities to protect the sanctity of the temple.

In 1990 S Mahendran filed a plea seeking a ban on the exclusion of women from entering the temple but the Kerala high rejected the plea. In 2006 another plea by Indian young lawyers was filed to allow the entry of women into the temple.

On 28th September 2018, the Supreme passed the verdict which allowed the entry of women into the temple.


ISSUES

  1. Does rule 3 of the Kerala Hindu place of public worship rule permits banning the entry of women aged between 10 – 50 years? And whether it violated articles 14 and 15(1) of the Indian constitution by prohibiting the entry of women into the temple based on their sex.

  2. Can any religious constitution claim that it has a right to manage its affairs in the matter of religion?

  3. Whether these acts of temple violate articles 14,15,17 and article 25 of the Indian constitution?


JUDGEMENT

  • Supreme court by analyzing and considering every important factor that gave the decision in the 4:1 decision.

  • Rule 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship 1965 was found to be contradicting its parent act. Section 3 of 1965 prohibits discrimination against any class of Hindu and women are a part of a class of Hindu. which is destructive of their dignity. Hence rule 3 ultra vires with the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act 1965 said by Judges Mishra, Nariman, and Chandrachud. Justice Nariman also found it contrary according to article 15{1} and strike it down with other judges.

  • It was held that believers and worshipers do not constitute a separate religious group. They were also termed as Hindus who worship idol lord Ayyappa and therefore it was held that Sabarimala temple denominational freedom under article 26 is subject to the State’s social reform mandate under Article 25(2)(b). Further emphasis was placed on the fact that physiologic aspects of women, such as menstruation, are irrelevant and have no influence on the rights that are given to them by the Constitution. Additionally, it was noted that the Constitution's Article 17 forbids any kind of untouchability, including exclusion.


DISSENTING VIEWS

Indu Malhotra was the only judge with a dissenting view.

She forced that Article 25 guarantees the right to profess, practice, and propagate their fate freely by the principle of their religion and the practice of exclusion of women by the principle of the Ayyappan community. Therefore, it does not violate article 25 of the Indian constitution. She also ruled out that rule 3(b) is not ultra vires but it was an exception for the benefit of religious domination. She also said that the Ayyapan community is a separate religious admonition that is protected under article 25. She also said that religious matters should not be taken handled by the court rationalization of religion is outside the ambit of the court.


CONCLUSION

The case comes out as a landmark judgment. In India, religion plays a very crucial role in Indian society.Although the court agreed to consider other concerns related to the petitions in the future, it upheld the same principle and did not revoke the rights granted to women in the 2018 judgment. Providing women with their rights proves that equality and morality are above any other principle and will remain above always and forever.



This article is written by Shivansh Singh of Presidency University.




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