The Kshetra Samrakshana Samithi on Thursday urged the Supreme Court not to tinker with the age-old custom and religious practice and said allowing women in the age group of 10 to 50 to enter the Ayyappa temple “will lead to social tensions in Kerala”.
Senior counsel Kailasanatha Pillay, appearing for the Samiti made this submission before a five-judge constitution Bench comprising the Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Kanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ms. Indu Malhotra hearing a batch of petitions challenging the ban on entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 into the temple. He said though members of the samiti are peace loving people, yet “I don’t want another Ayodhya in Kerala”.
Earlier the CJI told the counsel, “If you say it is a public temple, then the custom and essential and practice must be integral to the religion; the question is how far the practice of exclusion of certain category of women is valid. Your custom must stand the test of constitutional provisions.” The CJI said, “One can have rights to regulate rituals, but you cannot impose discriminatory conditions. “The court cannot be oblivious of the fact that one class of women is excluded on physiological grounds. Can there be a custom and integral religious practice, which excludes women, if so it is extremely arbitrary.”