Dept. of Philosophy being Chief Guest at their Valedictory function speaking on Gender and Patriarchy and MeToo as also on Women & Laws. Amazing experience. Honoured to share the dais with Chairman of ICPR Mr Bhatt and former VC & renowned scholar on ‘Gender in Indian Intellectual tradition’ Smt Chandrakala Padia Ji
If a woman complains that she has been sexually harassed, her complaint should be taken seriously. A thorough investigation should be done. If a complaint is found to be true, accused should be punished. Also, an explanation should be taken from her why she has complained after so many years. If a complaint is found to be false and malicious, she should be punished.
“Sabarimala case -Courts have not considered sentiments of Bhakt & Bhagwan”
Sabarimala verdict gave women between 10 to 50 years also the right to enter the temple. We all rejoiced at the grant of Right to Equality to women. But the next day we saw lakh of women on the streets of Kerala saying we are ‘Ready to wait’. I researched on Sabarimala issue and found facts which made me rethink & revisit my decision. Sabarimala temple in Kerala is a separate religious denominations, a sect, a sampradaya which has its unique customs. It has unique religious code for Bhagwan Ayappa & for his devotees i.e Bhakts. Lord Ayappa is a Brahmachari who has vowed not to marry & answer prayers of his devotees.STORY is that a lady trapped in a demon body was released by Ayappa. The lady insisted that she wanted to marry him. He said he is totally devoted to his devotees. But the day no devotee will come to his temple, he will marry her. A temple has also been built in her name.
Further strict 41 days Tapasya has to be observed by devotees before going to Sabarimala. Thus being Brahmachari & 41 days tapasya are fundamental practices, core principles of Ayappa sect. Hence protected by Art 25 -Freedom to practice my religion.
Thus courts can’t interfere. There are hundred other Ayappa temples in Kerala & all women are allowed in all temples. Thus there is no discrimination against women. But Sabarimala is unique. Here Ayappa is in brahmacharya form & desires that women of reproductive age should not come. It is not demeaning or anti-women.
Who is Young Lawyers forum who has filed this case in SC? It’s President is a Muslim, they are Delhi based lawyers, have read Barkha Dutt article that women are not allowed in Sabarimala & Hence filed this Public Interest Litigation. Constitution and Courts should interfere in religion only when religious practices are evil & oppressive to women. Courts should not judge whether a religious practice is illogical or irrational. e.g. tomorrow a case may be filed to ban Kanyapujan after Navratra as it is discriminatory against boys. Another case may be filed that how come Virgin Mother Mary gave birth to Jesus-Bible promotes superstition. Courts must go into the genuineness of petitioners & whether Court can and should interfere in customs & practices & fundamental beliefs of religions? Let there be a Laxman Rekha as to the limit the Courts should interfere. Constitution has already laid down this Laxman Rekha and Courts have reiterated them in their judgements that Courts will not interfere with the fundamental principles of a religion. But I believe in Sabarimala case, Courts have gone too far without considering the sentiments of Bhakt & Bhagwaan.