WOMEN AND RIGHT TO WORSHIP | UPSC Law Optional Mains 2019/2020 current affairs

An ongoing quest for equality

The Supreme Court delivered a 4:1 verdict .

CASE LAW NAME : Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala

THE VERDICT : It threw open the doors of the Sabarimala temple to women of all ages.

ISSUES TO DISCUSS :

  • How deep must the judiciary’s inquiry go in deciding whether to intervene in matters of religion?

  • Should the court disturb ethical choices made by a community of believers?

  • How must the integrity behind these practices be judged? Are religious exercises susceptible to conventional constitutional standards of justice and equality?

THE ARTICLE : The news article is about Sabarimala .

What is Sabarimala ? Sabarimala is a pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, it is one of the most famous and prominent pilgrimage sites in Kerala.

ISSUE : Usually since ages women of menstruating age group are not allowed to enter the sabarimala.

CONTROVERSY : Is right to equality violated here ?

POINTS IN RAISED ON AGAINST ENTRY OF WOMEN :

Why women must not be allowed to enter the concerned temple ?

Firstly: The temple, they argued, enjoyed denominational status under Article 26 of the Constitution.

Secondly: Prohibiting women of menstruating age from entering Sabarimala according to ancient scriptures / custom prevalent in Hindu mythology.

WHAT COURT SAID ? The first of these arguments was rejected outright by the court’s majority.

It said that the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorised the restriction violated the right of Hindu women to practice religion.

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REASONING :

  • Religion is a way of life intrinsically linked to the dignity of an individual and patriarchal practices based on exclusion of one gender in favour of another could not be allowed to infringe upon the fundamental freedom to practice and profess one's religion.

  • The exclusion of women between the ages of 10-50 years practiced by the Sabarimala Temple denuded women of their freedom of worship, guaranteed under Article 25(1).

POINTS TO NOTE :

During the hearing, the apex court observed that “what applies to a man applies to a woman” as well and that “once you open it for public, anyone can go”. The bench also said that a “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right”.

Whether not allowing women inside the Sabarimala temple an essential practice of Hinduism ?

The exclusion of women between ages 10-50 by the Sabarimala Temple cannot be an essential religious practice.

Reason : If the Ayyappana are Hindus, the practice of excluding women cannot be held to be an essential religious practice because this does not happen in any other temple.

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HOW THIS NEWS ARTICLE IS RELATED TO UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS ?

Following questions may find place in 2019 UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS :

  • “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right” – discuss with recent cases.

  • Analyze the scope of Art 26 and right of religious institutions enjoying denominational status under it, regarding restriction of entry in such institutions.

  • Are religious institutions under Art 26 open to everyone or has right to prescribe its visitors .

  • Can the right guaranteed under Art 26 for religious institutions over power the general right under Art 25 – right to worship – Explain with recent trends.

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