New Delhi : Two senior lawyers, appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae to assist it in deciding the sensitive issue of ban on entry of women of a particular age group in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, took diametrically opposite stands.

Noted senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran took a progressive modern view and supported the PIL of Indian Young Lawyers Association, saying that women have “universal and legal right” to enter into the temple, which is a public shrine. “It is the freedom of conscience and the right to practise and profess their religion which is recognized under Article 25 of the Constitution of India… encompasses the liberty of belief, faith and worship, pithily declared as a constitutional vision in the Preamble to the Constitution of India,” Ramachandran had submitted before the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

However, another senior lawyer K Ramamoorthy, assisting the bench as an amicus curiae, had a different take over the issue.

He maintained that in all prominent Hindu temples in India there had been some religious practices based on beliefs which are essential part of the Hindu religion as considered by people for a long time. Batting for preservation of centuries-old practice banning women of certain age group, Rammoorthy had said that the devotees of Ayyappa form a separate religious denomination and hence protected under the fundamental rights governing religious freedom.

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