New Delhi: The Supreme Court has decided to allow women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala which sees one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year.  

While reading out the judgment, CJI Misra said: "Right to worship is given to all devotees and there can be no discrimination on the basis of gender." 

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra had on August 1 reserved its judgment on a bunch of petitions that challenge the ban on entry of women.

CJI Misra said the right to worship is given to all devotees and there cannot be any discrimination on basis of gender. The practice of barring women in age group of 10-50 to go inside the temple is violative of constitutional principles. 

Justice Nariman said the temple custom of barring women in the age 10-50 years is not backed by Article 26 of the Constitution. The Bench said patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion.

The bench, which also comprised Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had earlier said that the constitutional scheme prohibiting exclusion has "some value" in a "vibrant democracy".

Reacting to the judgment, Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevarau said the verdict is  "disappointing", but the shrine board will accept it.

Travancore Devaswom Board President A Padmakumar said the Supreme Court's verdict will be studied in detail and further course of action will be decided after that.
Padmakumar said the board had informed the court that they wanted to continue with the existing ritual practices, but now they have no other option but to implement the verdict 

The board, he said, will take steps to execute the apex court directive.

It will study the judgment seriously, he said.

The Kerala government, which has been changing its stand on the contentious issue of women of the menstrual age group entering the Sabarimala temple, had on July 18 told the Supreme Court that it now favoured their entry.