A five-judge bench comprising CJI Misra and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra delivered a 4:1 verdict
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on September 28 allowed entry for women of all age groups to the 800-year-old Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said the "patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion".
A five-judge bench, comprising CJI Misra and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, delivered a 4:1 verdict.
Justice Indu Malhotra was the only dissenting member on the bench.
While Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevarau said the decision was "disappointing", he added that the shrine board accepted it.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, while welcoming the decision, told ANI that "it (the verdict) opens up and brings the way forward for Hinduism to become even more inclusive and not a property of one caste or one sex".The Congress, too, welcomed the verdict in a tweet.
— Congress (@INCIndia) September 28, 2018
Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor said the court has reiterated the case of equal justice through this verdict. Tharoor had differed from his party's 2016 stance that it was duty-bound to protect the centuries-old tradition.
Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the decision has "given a fresh expression to the rights of women and how they cannot be subjugated to any religious practice, no matter how sacred".
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy tweeted that he was "happy" with the decision.
There can be no discrimination to worship on the basis of gender or otherwise.
A welcome and progressive move towards gender equality by Supreme Court in #Sabrimala .
As society evolves, so should our religious beliefs and laws.— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) September 28, 2018
I am happy that SC has decided that gender equality in worship is to be followed in Sabarimalai. This what I had been advocating
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) September 28, 2018
Karnataka Women and Child Development Minister Jayamala, who had claimed that she had entered the temple in 1987 for a film shoot, called the verdict "historic".
"There is no happier moment in my life. I thank the women community, Supreme Court judges and God today... I also thank Ambedkar who wrote our Constitution," the actor-turned-politician said.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said he respected the apex court's verdict. He said the state government's stand is not just with regard to the Sabarimala temple, but all places of worship and insisted that there should be no discrimination.
BJP's Kerala president PS Sreedharan Pillai said the state government and Devaswom should work to build a consensus and "not escalate the situation".
"On one side are the beliefs of crores of people. On the other side is the fight for equal rights. The two sides must be brought together. Without compromising on the importance of Sabarimala, there must be an atmosphere of consensus," Pillai said.
Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) called the verdict "unfortunate" and said the organisation will approach the Supreme Court with a review petition, The Hindu has reported."The VHP recognises and accepts the apex court verdict in the case. The organisation will fully abide by the directives of the court and will not obstruct any woman from entering the temple. However, one may not be able to predict the response of Ayyappa devotees to women entering the temple," SJR Kumar, state president of the organisation, said.