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January 12, 2016

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1.The Bench was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association and five women lawyers seeking a directive to allow entry of women into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple without age restriction. Women in the age group of 10-50 are not allowed entry. The court had issued notice in 2006.

2.The petition had contended that women, aged 10-50, touching the idol was considered an act of desecration. An attempt was made to prosecute Kannada actor Jaimala on the plea of desecration after her disclosure that she had entered the sanctum sanctorum and touched the idol in 1987. The priests conducted a special ritual to purify the idol. The ban was enforced under Rule 3 (b) of the 3.Kerala Hindu 3.Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, (women at such time during which they are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship).

4.The Kerala High Court had upheld the ban in 1991 and directed the Devaswom Board to implement it. The petition contended that discrimination in entry into temples was neither a ritual nor ceremony associated with the Hindu religion. It was anti-Hindu.