Shani Temple row: No bar on women's entry to any place of worship, rules Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that no law prevents women from entering places of worship and there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering one is concerned.

The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice M.S.Sonak came on PIL filed by activists Vidya Bal and senior lawyer Nilima Vartak challenging the age-old tradition prohibiting entry to women to the sanctum sanctorum of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.

The judges also directed the Maharashtra government to take proactive steps to ensure compliance of the laws saying it is "the fundamental right of a woman" and must be protected.

On its part, the state government informed the court that it was totally opposed to gender discrimination and it would scrupulously implement the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956.

The issue came to forefront when an unknown woman "accidentally" climbed on the open-to-sky sanctum sanctorum and offered prayers in November 2015, kicking of a major controversy.

Demanding entry to the sanctum sanctorum, around 500 women of the BRB attempted to storm the temple on January 26, but were stopped by police around 90 km away.

(With agency inputs)

Nwes24 Bureau