Sabarimala Feud: Arun Jaitley Sees Constitutionalists-Devotees Divide

Sabarimala Feud:  Arun Jaitley Sees Constitutionalists-Devotees Divide

Sabarimala Feud:  Arun Jaitley Sees Constitutionalists-Devotees Divide 

New Delhi: In the middle of the feud over the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, today said that the debate between "constitutionalists" and "devotees" is not confined to India, it is a global issue. Mr Jaitley said, "The constitutionalists believe that first there is the Supreme Court and thereafter there is a god, but devotees feel otherwise... There will always be grey areas and the reconciliation between the two will always be a challenge," at India Ideas Conclave in Delhi.

The Union Minister, who has expressed reservations about some of the recent judgments by the Top Court, including the one on Sabarimala temple and questioned if one fundamental right can over-ride the other. He said that the same Constituent Assembly which gave the right of equality and dignity, also gave the right to religion and right to administer religious institutions.

The senior BJP leader said that, when it comes to rituals and traditions, unless a practice is hostile to human values, using one set of fundamental rights to "extinguish" the other will perhaps create further challenges. The minister said that, "Both have to harmoniously coexist."

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The minister's party has solidly backed the case of protesters in Kerala, who, over five days last month, had fought tooth and nail to keep women of reproductive age away from the temple gates. On Saturday, Mr Jaitley's party chief Amit Shah said the party was standing "like a rock" behind devotees who were trying to "save their tradition".

The finance minister had earlier said that the top court's verdict on the entry of women of all ages into celibate god Lord Ayyappa's temple was "selective". On saturday, Mr Jaitley had said that, it is easier for societies to reform through their own processes rather than by mandates of governments or others.

Traditionally, the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala bans the entry of all women aged between 10 and 50 years.

The Sabrimala follows the belief that menstruating women are "impure". The petitioner had challenged the custom in the temple and argued that women cannot be denied the constitutional right to worship.

The Supreme Court last month, allowed the women of mentruating age to enter the temple, following a 20-year legal battle, ruling that patriarchy cannot be allowed to trump faith.

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