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SC opens Sabarimala to women aged 10-50, not everyone is happy

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Sabrimala Temple

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 28 : The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that women in the age group of 10-50 could also enter the famed Sabarimala temple in Kerala, a decision that caused dismay among the devout.

In a majority 4:1 judgment, the apex court said the ban on women in the menstruating age group, whose presence in the Lord Ayyappa temple was considered to be “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.

Until now, girls below 10 years and women over 50 years were allowed to visit the hilltop shrine, located in the Western Ghats and about 130 km from Thiruvananthapuram. The temple is hugely popular in southern India.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge in the five-judge bench, gave a dissenting view.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, reading out the judgment, also on behalf of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said that subversion of women’s rights under the garb of physiological phenomenon cannot be allowed.

“All devotees are equal and there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender,” he said.

Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, in a separate but concurring ruling, said that people of all faiths visit temples — worshipers are not of separate denomination.

“The social exclusion of women, based on menstrual status, is a form of untouchability which is anthaema to constitutional values. Notions of ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’, which stigmatize individuals, have no place in a constitutional order,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in a separate but concurring judgment.

Holding that the Sabarimala temple was not a denominational temple peculiar to any sect, the court said it belonged to Hindus and does not constitute a separate entity.

But Justice Malhotra said: “What constitutes essential practices of religion is to be decided by worshippers and it is not for the judiciary to adjudicate.

“It is not for courts to determine which of these practices of a faith are to be struck down except if they are pernicious, oppressive or a social evil like Sati.”

She added: “The court cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity. Doing so would negate the freedom to practice one’s religion according to one’s faith and beliefs…

“All followers must be allowed to follow their own faith as per their own beliefs in a secular polity.”

While a section of women hailed the court ruling, it drew sharp reactions from the temple’s ‘tantri’ (chief priest) K. Rajeevaru, who said the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) will decide on an appeal challenging the decision.

Former TDB President G. Raman Nair called Friday a “black day” for Sabarimala.

“One can speak of equality and freedom but the verdict is breaking a tradition that was in existence much before the Constitution came into effect,” he said.

The President of the Ayyappa Seva Sanghom and a veteran Congress leader, Thennala Balakrishna Pillai, said while the rule of law has to be adhered to, the traditions, culture and ritualistic practices were equally important.

“I am yet to see one woman who said she will be going to the temple while several have said they will not,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Pandalam Royal Family, which has an integral role in the affairs of the Sabarimala temple, Sasikumar Varma, said the palace was disappointed with the verdict.

“The long-standing tradition of Sabarimala have been changed and that is very said,” he said. “Every religious place has its own traditions and culture which have their own reasons.”

P. Geetha, a teacher and a popular face in TV debates, welcomed the ruling.

“The verdict is welcome and all those women who wish to visit the temple can do so now,” she said.

Cities

Uttar Pradesh: 8-yr-old raped in Azamgarh village

The girl was rushed to a hospital where her condition was stated to be serious, the police said.

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gang rape

Azamgarh (UP), Sep 30 : An eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 20-year-old man in a village in Jiyanpur area of the Azamgarh district, police said on Wednesday.

The accused took the girl with himself from her home telling her mother that she would have her bath in his house, the police said, quoting from the complaint lodged by the girl’s mother.

The accused had also taken from the girl’s mother her clothes, the police aid.

But when the child returned from the neighbour’s house, she was writhing in pain and bleeding, the police said.

The girl was rushed to a hospital where her condition was stated to be serious, the police said.

Azamgarh Superintendent of Police Sudhir Kumar Singh said the accused, identified as Danish, has been arrested.

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Cities

Uttar Pradesh: 14-year-old raped in Bulandshahr

A report has been lodged against the accused and efforts are on to nab him. The accused will be taken into custody soon, police said.

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gang rape

Bulandshahr (UP), Sep 30 : A minor girl was allegedly raped by her neighbour in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, police said on Wednesday.

Senior Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh said on Wednesday night, the girl’s father submitted a complaint in this regard, alleging that his 14-year-old daughter was raped by their neighbour Rizwan (20) on Tuesday night.

The victim is undergoing medical treatment. A report has been lodged against the accused and efforts are on to nab him. The accused will be taken into custody soon, police said.

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India

‘No moral right to continue’: Priyanka Gandhi’s scathing attack on Yogi Adityanath after death of Hathras gang-rape victim

The 19-year-old died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday. The woman was admitted there in a critical condition after being brutally raped by four men in her village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district.

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Priyanka Gandhi

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi took on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath for the death of Hathras rape victim, saying he doesn’t have any moral right to continue as chief minister.

“I was on the phone with the Hathras victim’s father when he was informed that his daughter had passed away. I heard him cry out in despair. He had just been telling me that all he wanted was justice for his child. Last night he was robbed of the chance to take his daughter home for the last time and perform her last rites,” Gandhi said in her first two tweets on the issue on Wednesday.

She also asked Adityanath to resign. “@myogiadityanath RESIGN. Instead of protecting the victim and her family, your government became complicit in depriving her of every single human right, even in death. You have no moral right to continue as Chief Minister,” Gandhi tweeted.

The 19-year-old died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday. The woman was admitted there in a critical condition after being brutally raped by four men in her village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district.

The incident took place on September 14. She was first admitted to JN Medical College and Hospital in Aligarh, but was shifted to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after her condition deteriorated where she breathed her last.

The UP government has been facing flak from Opposition parties over the issue. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said that “no hope” is left from the “insensitive government”.

Reacting to the incident, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati tweeted in Hindi, “The news of the death of the Dalit girl after gangrape in Hathras, UP, is very sad. The government should provide all possible help to the victim’s family and ensure quick punishment to the culprits by prosecuting them in a fast-track court.”

The Congress has questioned the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and women leaders of his party and alleged that Uttar Pradesh under the Yogi Adityanath government has become the country’s “crime capital”.

At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged that for eight days no gangrape charges were pressed in the matter and that the UP chief minister’s information advisor and Agra Police kept calling the incident “fake news”.

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