No law prevents women from entering a place of worship and if men are allowed, then women too should be permitted, the Bombay High Court observed on Wednesday while stating that any temple or person imposing such restriction can face a six-month jail term under a Maharashtra law.
Women activists Vidya Bal and Nilima Varta had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the abolishment of a century-old tradition which barred women from entering the Shani Shinganapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.
While hearing the PIL, the Bombay HC observed, "If it is the sanctity of the deity that you are worried about then let the government make such a statement. Under the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, if any temple or person prohibits any person from entering a temple then he or she faces a six-month imprisonment." the court said.
The court recommended that the Maha government provide publicity to this Act and distribute circulars regarding the same to public to educate them about its provisions.
The court directed government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani to take instructions and make a statement on Friday, 1 April, on whether or not it will ensure that women will be allowed to enter the temple.
The petition says that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and in violation of fundamental rights of citizens.