Mumbai, April 1
Entering places of worship was a fundamental right, the Bombay High Court ruled on Friday and directed the Maharashtra Government to implement measures to ensure women’s right to worship was protected.
"Ultimately, it is the fundamental right of a woman and the government's fundamental duty to protect their (women) right," a division bench of Chief Justice DH Waghela Justice MS Sonak said said.
"Secretary of Home Department, Maharashtra, will ensure due compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, and in order to ensure that the policy and purpose of the Act is fully carried out, they (Home department) will issue directions to all superintendents of police and collectors in each district of Maharashtra.”
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation challenging women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum of Maharashtra’s Shani Shingnapur temple. The order was a general one, the court said.
The Maharashta Government said it would issue a circular or a direction to all district collectors to ensure there is no prejudice against women in temples.
The court on Wednesday objected to gender prejudices against women in places of worship.
The Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, has provisions dealing with social prejudices in places of worship. Prohibiting a person from entering a temple attracts a six-month jail term under the Act.
For generations, women have been forbidden from entering the inner sanctum of the temple. The prohibition was challenged this year by a group of activists who marched to the temple and demanded entry.
Women’s rights activist held a protest against the gender prejudice. — PTI
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