In a majority 4:1 judgment, the top court also read down the provision of Kerala laws that protected the prohibition and said it could not be covered under practices essential and integral to religious practice.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge in the five-judges bench, who gave a dissenting judgment.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra reading out the judgment also on behalf of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, said that subversion of women’s rights under the garb of physiological phenomenon cannot be allowed.
“All devotees are equal and there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender,” Misra said.
Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in a separate but concurring judgment said that people of all faiths visit the temples — worshipers are not of separate denomination.
“Religion cannot become a cover to exclude and deny women their right to worship,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also said in a separate but concurring judgment.
Holding the Sabarimala temple is not a denominational temple peculiar to any sect, the court said that the Ayyappa temple belongs to Hindus and does not constitute a separate entity.
The apex court also read down the provision of Kerala laws that protected the practice of prohibiting the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years.