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This article is more than 3 year old.

Sabarimala verdict: A lone female judge opposed women's entry into temple

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The elephant in the room was finally out on Friday with a five-judge verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple. While much was made of the fact that one of the five judges dissented the verdict, there was less comment that the one who was against the decision was infact a woman.

Sabarimala verdict: A lone female judge opposed women's entry into temple
The elephant in the room was finally out on Friday with a five-judge verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple. While much was made of the fact that one of the five judges dissented the verdict, there was less comment that the one who was against the decision was infact a woman.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman in the Constitution Bench which heard the Sabarimala matter, opposed the entry of women of all age groups in the temple.
"Religious practices are constitutional protected. Court normally do not dwell into the issue of religious practices," opined Malhotra in the Supreme Court.
Malhotra said court cannot determine which practices need to be struck down except oppressive ones such as Sati. According to her, right of equality sought by women run contrary to the right to worship of the devotees.
"Religious practices cannot be tested solely on the touchstone of reasonableness in Article 14," said 62-year old Malhotra, who was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge earlier this year.
Her arguments were in stark contrast to other judges on the bench. Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Khanwilkar, Nariman and Chandrachud were all in favor of ending the practice.
Justice Chandrachud said that not allowing the woman to enter because they are of procreating age is "derogatory" to them. "To exclude women of the age group 10-50 from the temple is to deny dignity to women. To suggest that women cannot undertake the 41-day vratham is to stereotype them," he said.
Malhotra, however, said that the petition does not deserve to be entertained. She added that the verdict will have far-reaching implications for other places of worships.
Malhotra is one of the members of the Vishaka Committee, which framed guidelines for companies dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. She was on the panel of women lawyers set up to protect women lawyers from sexual harassment in 2013.
Hailing from a family of lawyers, Malhotra is a counsel in multiple public interest litigation (PIL) challenging laws under the Motor Vehicles Act and discrimination against women make-up artists in the Bollywood industry.
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