Today's verdict is the latest in a recent series of landmark Supreme Court decisions, including the decriminalisation of gay sex and adultery.
- Devotion can't be subject to gender discrimination: Supreme Court
- Top court removes ban on women aged 10-50; 4:1 majority verdict
- Verdict latest in series of landmark decisions
The Supreme Court on Friday removed a ban that prevented women between 10 and 50 years of age from entering Kerala's Sabarimala temple -- the latest in a recent series of landmark decisions, including the decriminalisation of gay sex and adultery.
The Sabarimala shrine, located northeast of Pathanamthitta in a tiger reserve, is dedicated to the Hindu deity Ayyappan. Devotees consider Ayyappan to be an eternal celibate.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar, who delivered one of four judgments, said devotion can't be subject to gender discrimination.
Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud concurred with Misra and Khanwilkar. Justice Indu Malhotra dissented.
Chandrachud said religion can't be used as a cover to deny women the right to worship, and that to treat women as the children of a lesser God was to blink at the Constitution.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the "wonderful" judgment "opens up the way forward for Hinduism to become even more inclusive and not a property of one caste or one sex."
Kandararu Rajeevaru, the head priest at Sabarimala, said the verdict was "disappointing" -- -- but that the 'Tantri [head priest] family' would accept it.