New Delhi: In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court ruled that women of all ages would be able to enter the Sabarimala temple A five-judge Constitution Bench, including Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, announced the verdict. Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman on the bench, dissented from the majority verdict and said that the entry of menstruating women from ages 10 to 50 in the historic temple is not correct as “courts cannot interfere unless an aggrieved person from the concerned sect or religion” approaches it.

The Supreme Court on Friday opened the doors of Kerala’s Sabarimala temple to all women stating that “courts must not grant legitimacy to religious practices which derogate women”.

However, Justice Malhotra did not agree with the rest of the bench and said that the refusal to allow entry of women was right.

She said that it is not for the court to decide which practices should be struck down, except when they are harmful practices like Sati and rationality cannot be brought into faith. 

Justice Malhotra said, “India has diverse religious practices and constitutional morality would allow anyone to profess and practice a religion she/he believes in and it is not for the court to interfere in such religious practices, even if it may appear discriminatory”.

However, she ruled that the respondents have made out a strong case for Ayyappa devotees being a separate denomination and stated that “a balance needs to be struck between religious beliefs on one hand and cherished principles of non-discrimination and equality laid down by Constitution on the other.”