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It is State’s duty to protect fundamental rights of women: Bombay High Court

The Bombay HC was hearing a public interest litigation challenging the prohibition on women’s entry to the shrine area at Shani Shingnapur temple

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In a significant judgment, the Bombay High Court Friday observed it is the Fundamental Duty of the state to protect the Fundamental Rights of women.

Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice M S Sonak’s observation comes at a time when a section of women revolted against the entry ban into the shrine of a temple in Maharashtra. It perhaps will be a shot in the arm for women seeking entry into places of worship where they are disallowed.

They were hearing a public interest litigation challenging the prohibition on women’s entry to the shrine area at Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district.

The Maharashtra government represented by acting Advocate General Rohit Dev submitted that it was against any kind of gender discrimination at places of religious worship. Here, pertained to entry into a temple and therefore provisions of Maharashtra Places of Hindu Places of Public Worship (entry Authorisation) Act, 1956 apply.

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As a result, Dev submitted that the state was determined to enforce the provisions of the Act which says “no Hindu of whatsoever section or class shall in any manner be prevented, obstructed or discouraged from entering such place of public worship or from worshipping or offering prayers, or performing a religious service…”. As per the Act, prohibiting any person from entering a temple would attract six months in jail.

The effective implementation of the law, which perhaps had become obscure, would have a bearing in all the places where people are banned from entering temples on the basis of gender.

The government, according to its statement, will now issue circular setting out guidelines for an effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.


“It is the fundamental duty of the state to protect the findamental rights of women. In order to ensure that policy and purpose of the Act is fully carried out, the state will issue guidelines to all district collectors in Maharashtra,” the bench directed.

There will be due compliance of enforcement of the law, the HC said.

First published on: 02-04-2016 at 04:03:12 am
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