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Sabarimala Board tells Supreme Court: Support your verdict, will allow entry of women into temple

File photo. Photograph:( PTI )

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 06, 2019, 02.55 PM (IST)

In a massive U-turn, the Travancore Dewasom Board, which runs Kerala's Sabarimala temple, told the Supreme Court Wednesday that it now supports the court's September 28, 2018 verdict allowing all women into the shrine.

The board, which also has state government nominees on it, told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it is high time a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of "biological attributes". 

"Article 25 (1) equally entitles all persons to practice religion," senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the board, told the court. 

The Supreme Court was on Wednesday hearing review petitions against its September 28 verdict.  

The Travancore Dewasom Board had earlier vehemently opposed the Supreme Court's verdict, saying that the celibate character of Sabarimala's presiding deity Lord Aiyappa, was a unique religious feature protected under the constitution. 

Religious mythology says Aiyappa will only look at a woman when he is ready to marry her — which is why women of menstruating age were not allowed to enter the temple. 

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The Supreme Court's verdict had led to massive political mobilisation in the state by both the BJP and the Congress, with Aiyappa devotees preventing the entry of women. Kerala's Left Front government led by Chief Minister Pinari Vijayan had said the Supreme Court verdict had to be enforced. 

On Wednesday, Dwivedi told the court that "women cannot be excluded from any walk of life on biological attributes... Equality is the dominant theme of the Constitution".

Dwivedi added that people should gracefully accept the Supreme Court verdict.

"The board respects the judgement of the court. Article 25 (1) of the Constitution equally entitles all citizens to practice religion," said senior lawyer Rakesh Dvivedi appearing for the Board.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, in a 4:1 verdict had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the shrine, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination. 

The court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the review petitions. 

(With inputs from PTI)

Story highlights

It is high time a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of 'biological attributes', the board told the court on Wednesday. It added that people should gracefully accept the court's verdict.