‘The Supreme Court should not have come out with this kind of order and in my opinion, the court should correct it.’
On September 28, a five judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra ruled that all women, irrespective of age, can enter Kerala’s famed Sabarimala temple.
It struck down a rule that disallowed girls and women in the 10 to 50 age group from entering the Sabarimala temple. The 4-1 verdict said the temple rule violated women’s right to equality and right to worship.
The only note of dissent was from the lone woman judge on the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, who said, ‘Issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the Court. The Sabarimala shrine and the deity is protected by Article 25 of Constitution of India and the religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of Article 14.’
A group of petitioners including the Indian Young Lawyers Association and Happy to Bleed, had challenged the ban which had been upheld by the Kerala high court.
The high court ad ruled that only the ‘tantri (priest)’ was empowered to decide on traditions. They petitioners had argued in court that the tradition followed in Sabarimala was discriminatory in nature.
Shylaja Vijayan, president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association, filed a review petition following the Supreme Court verdict, but the bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph on Tuesday, October 9, declined to urgently hear the plea.
Meanwhile, P C George, the controversial Kerala MLA from Poonjar, has been extremely vocal about the court verdict. He proclaimed that he would not let any woman pass through Erumeli which comes under his constituency to go to Sabarimala.
“When Ayyappan decided not to see women from 10 to 50, why do some women want to see him?” George asks Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier.
You said you would not let any woman between the ages of 10 and 50 pass through Erumeli which comes under your constituency. Why did you make such a statement?
I felt it was my duty to do so. You may ask why.
It is because I consider Sabarimala a holy place. Because Lord Ayyappa was a naishtika brahmachari that women between the ages of 10 and 50 were not allowed in this temple and it has been the tradition for ages.
It was the decision of Ayyappan to remain there as a naishtika brahmachari; nobody can question his decision.
When Ayyappan decided not to see women from 10 to 50, why do some women want to see him? It is absolutely not right.
I don’ think women who believe in God, women from good families, women who respect their parents and husbands and society will want to break this tradition and go there.
No Ayyappa believer will do something that is against the beliefs of the temple.
Non-believers from other parts of India may go, but not the true worshippers.
The petition filed in the Supreme Court stated that the tradition followed in the temple was discriminatory. You don’t feel that way?
You just find out the profile of the persons who filed the case. You will then know in which group they belong.
Do you feel they did not understand the tradition followed in Sabarimala as women can worship at all the other Ayyappa temples?
I feel this is a concerted effort by some to damage and destroy our beliefs.
The aim is not just to destroy Hindu beliefs, but destroy the country itself.
They know they can destroy the country by destroying Indian culture. There are some elements here who want to destroy our culture.
See, in churches, only the priests conduct the masses. Now, these people may now target the churches too asking for a change in this. Someone may even ask for changes in Islam.
It is as if the Supreme Court can take decisions on religious beliefs too.
The Constitution has given us the right to believe and nobody, not even the Supreme Court, can question our beliefs.
The Supreme Court has taken up what is not in their powers.
Only Parliament and the state assembly have the power to make laws. The court only has the power to look for any flaws in the laws while the executive has the power to implement the laws.
Every department has been given certain powers and duties. Now, the court has started creating laws which is not within their powers at all.
My opinion is that this can create a lot of problems in the country. It can even destroy democracy.
Are you of the opinion that the courts should not interfere in religious matters? Who has the right to make changes within religion?
My opinion is that there are many beliefs which are being followed for centuries in various religions.
There are religious heads in all the religions like the tantris, the Pope and the moulvis. Let them make changes. It’s their job to look into religious matters and not the job of the court.
When there was a protest in Pandalam against the Supreme Court order, you participated in it…
I participated in the protest and supported them, and I will do it again.
I have to say there are some ignoramuses in the Hindu community who are against such protests.
The Supreme Court should not have come out with this kind of order and in my opinion, the court should correct it.
With many protests against the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala, do you think Kerala is getting divided?
Absolutely not. There is no division in our society; all the believers are together and nobody can divide them.
Of course, there are people in society who do not believe in anything and not just in Sabarimala. They have been there all the time.
Even on this issue, they will not be with us or with the true believers. We do not have to give them any importance.
The chief minister said his government will do all it can to implement the Supreme Court order.
I feel what the chief minister said was not right.
All of you know what Kerala went through last month. The state has not yet recovered from the calamities inflicted by the floods and landslides.
At a time like this, Kerala is looking at a struggle like this. Is it necessary?
Does the chief minister want to make Kerala into a land of chaos and turmoil by taking such an unwanted stand on this issue?
I can understand why the government can’t give a review petition after giving an affidavit on the issue. But he could have done one thing; he could have asked for some time to implement the order as he expected chaos in the state.
You should understand one thing: It is the women of Kerala who have come out to protest. The honourable chief minister also understand this.