Sabarimala Verdict: Is the Supreme Court’s judgement selective and confined to Hindus? – Markandey Katju

Supreme Court Judges

Justice Markandey KatjuBy interfering with the centuries-old practice of the Sabarimala Temple, the Supreme Court has … embarked on a perilous, unpredictable path of hyper-activism, which will be an albatross hanging on the necks of judges in India. – Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Indu Malhotra in her dissenting judgement in the Sabarimala case has displayed the balance and restraint required by all judges of a supreme court. I regret I cannot say the same for the judges in the majority. By interfering with the centuries-old practice of the Sabarimala Temple they have opened up a Pandora’s box and embarked on a perilous, unpredictable path of hyper-activism, which will be an albatross hanging on the necks of judges in India.

India is a country with tremendous diversity and plurality, as Justice Malhotra has noted. There are thousands of temples, mosques, dargahs, etc each having its own peculiar practices and rituals. Courts should be extremely reluctant to interfere in this. As Justice Malhotra has rightly pointed out, religion is a matter of faith, and it is for each sect or denomination to decide what are its essential practices.

In most mosques in India, Muslim women are not allowed, and they have to pray at home. Even in the very few where they are allowed, e.g. in Jama Masjid, Delhi, they cannot pray along with the men, but in separate enclosures. Will the Supreme Court display the same bravery and order that Muslim women must be allowed to stand next to Muslim men during prayers in mosques? Or is the Court’s bravery selective and confined to Hindus? – Swarajya, 28 September 201

» Justice Markandey Katju is the former Chairman, Press Council of India. Prior to his appointment to the  Press Council of India, he served as a judge at the Supreme Court of India.

Katju on Twitter


5 Responses

  1. If Modi Sarkar does not have the guts then can you imagine what will happen if (God forbid) the Congress or others come to power in 2019. The missionaries and mullahs will rule and once again the Hindu voice will be silenced.


  2. Like

  3. Supreme Court judgment on Sabarimala disappointing, will have problematic repercussions – Pramod Kumar – The Indian Express – 28 Sept 2018

    The Supreme Court’s 4-1 majority verdict on entry of women in Sabarimala temple has come as a disappointment to millions of devotees of Ayyappa.

    The verdict essentially highlights the chasm that exists between millions of practicing Hindus who live the faith everyday with understanding and reverence on one hand, and the educated elite on the other, who look down upon these masses with a patronising, condescending view rooted in colonial prejudices that seeks to characterise the customs and practices of Hindu faith as regressive and discriminatory.

    Ironically, the sole voice of dissent in this majority verdict was Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman in the five-judge bench, who observed that there exists a difference between diversity and discrimination. Justice Malhotra’s observations have therefore struck a sympathetic chord with many Hindus like me who feel that her judgment reflects a more nuanced understanding of this conflict between law and faith.

    She acknowledges the fact that the Sabarimala shrine and the deity are protected by Article 25 of the Constitution and that the people worshipping there have attributes of a religious denomination. Hence, the court should not interfere unless there is an aggrieved person from that religion or section.

    Advocates K. Parasaran and Sai Deepak also submitted to the Court why not all exclusion is to be decried as discrimination. There are many other temples of Ayyappa in Kerala and in other States where women are allowed to worship him on a daily basis without any restriction. The restriction imposed on entry of women in Sabarimala is because of the nature of the deity worshipped there as a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (celibate) and not because of any discriminatory attitude towards women based on biological factors such as menstruation.

    India Today columnist Angirasa Shreshta correctly highlights the crux of the debate on whether exclusion amounts to discrimination thus: “A full participation in the religion entails not only performing duties, whether obligatory or out of your own volition, but also not doing what is prohibited. Negative acts such as abstaining from meat and alcohol on vrata/upavasa days or removing footwear before entering a temple are also instances of religious participation. … Similarly, when a woman identified as having reproductive capabilities (for practical purposes, identified as belong to the 10-50 age group), accepts the restriction pertaining to Sabarimala with devotion, she is fully participating in the religion and in the worship of the deity. This “negative” participation by no means less profound and meaningful than the direct, “positive” participation of the men and women of the allowed age groups.”

    The Sabarimala verdict has placed personal morality and the individual right to equality above the rights of the devotees and the rights of religious institutions which leads to problematic repercussions. For example, if a person argues tomorrow that temples should not insist on removal of footwear or on other forms of ritual purity while entering the temple premises and that this amounts to discrimination against those who cannot maintain such purity, where does this argument lead to?

    Despite the judgment, millions of women in Kerala who started the #ReadytoWait movement will continue to wait till 50 to have a darsan of their deity.

    > The author is an Assistant Professor at the Amrita Darshanam International Centre for Spiritual Studies at Amrita University, Coimbatore.


  4. Not only are women not allowed in mosques, women are not allowed to be priests or assume any position of authority in the Catholic Church. Is the SC willing to look into this grave injustice in the interests of women’s rights?

    And what about the original Muslim petitioner in the Sabarimala temple entry case? Is he willing to take up the rightful cause of mosque entry for Muslim women?


  5. Hindus beware! The Court may be setting them up for a negative Ayodhya judgement.

    Indians are now ruled by a kritarchy as Modi Sarkar doesn’t have the balls to curtail the Court’s activism and take its own decisions.


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