Indian Young Lawyers’ Association v. State of Kerala, commonly known as the Sabarimala judgment was a landmark judgment in the Indian history and Judiciary, changing the entire sphere of status and rights of women, customary practice and religious standing in the country. It abrogated the age old practice of denying entry to women in the holy temple of Sabarimala in Kerala. This judgment invited mixed feelings throughout the country, mostly positive which was appreciated by women all over the country. It gave the women, the right to enter the holy temple to seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa, something they had been denied for centuries.
Women have been denied rights and have been reduced to subordination since time immemorial. Termed as the weaker sex, even today, women do not have their basic rights of equal status and opportunity, bodily autonomy and freedoms that men enjoy. In the light of the latest wave of large number of rape incidents and sexual assaults throughout the country, it becomes imperative for the government to adopt stricter measures and effective administration of the laws against such violence. While the rapists and culprits have utilised every space in this country to threaten and make their life miserable, a temple, which is considered the home of God itself, too is no more safe for women to carry something as basic as their right to worship, in peace.
As terrifying and saddening as it sounds, a woman has filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the State of Kerala to ensure the safe entry and passage of women into Sabarimala Temple. The applicant has approached the Apex court seeking directions for the State of Kerala to ensure that women of all ages are allowed entry and safe and secure passage to the Temple. The petition also seeks for the cessation of the age verification process carried out by the Kerala Police. It has also sought a direction to the State to give wide publicity to the September 2018 decision of the Supreme Court which allowed entry of women into the Temple.
The applicant was taking a pilgrimage to the holy place when she was attacked with chemical substances right in front of the office of the Ernakulam Police Station, which could still not provide her with the required protection. The State was took a stand, allegedly in defiance of the 2018 judgment. The applicant states that she is constantly being attacked by some unlawful elements and the State government has completely failed to give her any protection. It is apparent that this is also the case for other women between the age of 10 and 50 who wish to visit Sabarimala, as there is a clear anticipation of danger to their lives, completely rejecting their fundamental rights of equality, expression and life under articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution in India, respectively.
In the light of the same, the applicant added that,
“…the State of Kerala, cannot choose to ignore the Orders of this Hon’ble Court by giving its own interpretation. The stand of the State Government in public is a gross disregard to the Orders of this Hon’ble Court as well as violation of its solemn duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws as declared by the highest Court of the land.”
The State of Kerala, through its police had not only gravely omitted to follow the direction of the Highest Court, but in the process have silently contributed to the widespread violence again women, defeating the entire purpose of its existence.