New Delhi: Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Friday welcomed the Supreme Court judgement allowing entry of women of all ages in the Sabarimala temple, saying it would make Hinduism even more inclusive.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women.
Hailing the apex court judgement on Sabarimala, Gandhi said it is a "wonderful" judgement that paves way to make Hinduism even more inclusive.
"It opens up the way forward for Hinduism to become even more inclusive and not a property of one caste or one sex," Gandhi said.
"Hindu religion has always been an all inclusive one and yet over the years, 'thekedars' or contractors have literally divided temples into which caste cannot go to a temple, which sex cannot go. In Hinduism, a woman is the devi - the shakti herself. How can you prevent the shakti from going to a temple," Gandhi said.
It is a good judgement because it opens up and brings the way forward for Hinduism to become even more all inclusive and not the property of one type, one caste, one sex, she added
"The concept of god belongs to all and if a temple presumes to represent god then they must open up that temple for everybody," she said.
National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma also welcomed the decision, saying it gives women the right to choose where to go.
"Constitution has given equal rights to everybody but discrimination at religious places creates a hindrance. On one side we are saying menstruation is a biological factor while on another we are keeping women out of temple. The Supreme Court has absolutely given the right verdict," Sharma said.
Lauding the Supreme Court judgement, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal said the country has waited for very long for this judgement.
"We are living in a democratic country where the order the Supreme Court has to be followed. I appeal to all states to follow the order in letter and spirit," she said.
The Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on a clutch of pleas challenging the ban on entry of women of menstrual age in Kerala's Sabarimala temple and said law and society are tasked with the task to act as levellers.
Justice Chandrachud said religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity.
He said prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.