All you need to know about the Sabrimala Temple Case


The Sabarimala judgment enumerated the wheels of social discrimination and gave a spark to feminist jurisprudence life and ignited prolonged discriminatory practice on basis of biological stance. All rights enumerated in the Indian Constitution are formulated to give morality to the social issue and aid women in perceiving basic Fundamental Rights with due honour and respect.

Sabarimala is one of the largest pilgrimage centers in the world. The shrine located in the Western Ghats of Kerala region, Periyar tiger sanctuary is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The shrine is managed by a Travancore Devaswom Board (a statutory body). Back in 1991, the Kerala High Court banned the entry of women under the age of 10 and 50 from entering the premises.  The basic ground for the judgment was that ban on the entry of women was from long back and only the Priest was empowered to decide on traditions so the court should not exercise its jurisdiction there. Agitations were raised after their judgment and in 2006 Indian young lawyers association filed a PIL and challenged the judgment, in 2018 five-judge constitution bench led by CJI Dipak Misra revoked the ban and allowed women of all age groups to enter Sabarimala temple premise With 4:1majority, The bench concluded that the clauses in Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules 1995 which prescribed restriction, violated the rights of Hindu women to practice religion. The dissenting judge Justice Indu Malhotra said that the petition does not deserve to be entertained due to jurisdiction.

Judicial history of Sabarimala Temple

Prohibition of entry for women in Sabarimala premise was on grounds of Impugned Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act, 1965 (Act). This practice was in force traditionally for approx 800 years. Later in 1991 Kerala High Court upheld the judgment of prohibition of women’s entry in Sabarimala temple. The two-judge bench pronounced the judgment that the prohibition by the Travancore Devaswom Board that controls the shrine do not violate either the Constitution or a pertinent 1965 Kerala law because the ban was for women (even before 1950, as per the testimony of then the temple’s chief priest) between the ages of 10 and 50, not as a class or section. In 2015 Naushad Ahmed Khan, president of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, approaches the court seeking to challenging challenge the judgment, but the then again the petition was cancelled and in 2016 India Young Lawyers Association reached court with a plaque of  Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules 1965 that stated: “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship”, violative in nature as it’s discriminatory  and against equality. In response of to the petition in 2018 Supreme Court revoked the ban on entry of women by a 4-1 majority by, striking down rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules 1965, which is responsible for prohibiting the entry of menstruating women.

Later in January 2019 two women’s Bindu (44) and Kanakadurgaged (42), were the first to step into the temple after the top court’s historic judgment lifted the ban on the entry of girls and women. Soon after this incident agitating spark was over India and in 2019 SC reserved judgment in Sabarimala review petitions till the normalcy and Supreme Court has passed the review petitions over the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple premise to the 7 member Constitution bench.

Analysis Of Judgment 

The judgment of the young India case was registered by a 4:1 ratio and held exclusion of women from Sabarimala shrine as unconstitutional and also stated section 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act 1965 as against the law. This rule also gets managerial support by Article 15(1) and Article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution as the fact was discriminating the person based on sex which is against the fundamental rights. The Association filed the case that the custom of Sabarimala is violating the rights to equality under Article 14 and freedom of religion under Article 25. Petitioners advocate Indira Jai Singh argued that the restrictions were solely against Articles 14, 15, and 17 of the Indian constitution and the ancient custom is discriminatory in Nature.

And the case was in favor of petitioners but soon after then the agitation took place at large scale so again this case was registered in the Supreme Court and in 2019, 9 bench judges headed by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde upheld the decision of the Sabarimala Review Bench to refer to a larger Bench to frame 7 questions of law-

  • What is the scope and the ambit of religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution?
  • What is the interplay between religious freedom and rights of religious denominations under Article 26 of the Constitution?
  • Whether religious denominations are subject to fundamental rights?
  • What is the definition of ‘morality’ used in Articles 25 and 26?
  • What is the ambit and scope of judicial review of Article 25?
  • What is the meaning of the phrase “sections of Hindus under Article 25 (2) (b)?
  • Whether a person not belonging to a religious group can question the practices, beliefs of that group in a PIL petition?

These questions were not only related to the Sabarimala issue but also checked the facts on framing the larger religious issues and merged the issue with other persistent social concerns from female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohras to the entry of Parsi women who married inter-faith into the fire temple and Muslim women into mosques and referred them all to a larger Bench. Denying women entry at the public premises on the biological and physiological reference is purely against the spirit of the right to equality under Article14 and this turfs for judicial required interventions to restrict dogmatic practices in the pursuit of religion is very much required for constitutional validity entailing restriction of entry of women in workplace premise also arises in respect of entry. The persistence of these customs is also violating Article 17 of the Indian Constitution in concern of untouchability.


As the court scrutinized the judgment very well so it may lead to strengthen the belief and customs of society on the justice system and will also tie the confidence of devotees toward the premise and also going to help in maintaining of status quo for smooth flow of pilgrimage. Even the government seeks peaceful conduct so that policy formations after this judgment will also enhance the outcomes. If we talk of discrimination then the viable question raised can be in India there are many Lord Ayyappaii deity’s premises but then there this sort of discrimination is not been seen. Liberty to believe, to be a person of faith to pray cannot be struck merely based on certain biological Factors. In the growing world Equality, liberty, and fraternity cited in the preamble should be taken into concern, and the dignity of each person should be respected irrespective ofone\’s sex. Each person\’s moral principles or norms required should be respected.


  1. Provisions of Indian Constitution, available at;
  2. show/65989807.cms

 This article is authored by Anish Sinha, student at Asian Law College, Noida.

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