• The CJI in the Sabarimala Temple case has observed that the temple draws funds from the Consolidated Fund.
• So, it is a “public place of worship” and that there is no concept of private mandirs in India.
• The final judgment has not yet been delivered yet.
What are the issues?
• Arguments that say temple is a private space:
• There are many public institutions, like scientific institutions and government buildings, which rely on public funds but do not allow everybody the to enter into their premises.
• There are temples which do not take government money.
• Temple is public.
• Temples are allowed to collect money from the public and they collect money in the name of various gods.
• The divine is not a commodity which can be transacted and so the right to privacy in a place of worship will lead to the privatization of god.
• God is a public entity as by definition it is accessible to all.
• Even rituals cannot be privatized since they are also done for god, a public being.
• The deity of Sabarimala too is worshipped in many temples outside Sabarimala where women can enter and also worshipped by women their houses.
• Today, private has entered most domains of the public.
• One important idea similar to god and prayer, it of education.
• Like prayer, the right to basic education is also a constitutional right. Thus schools and colleges are often referred to as temples of education.
• Education, like god, should be accessible to all, irrespective of gender, caste, class or any other obstacle.
• But private temples of education are keeping the underprivileged people out. The public discussion around entry into Sabarimala may help the temples of education as well.
• If God should not be privatized, education, water and air, among other public goods, should also not be privatized as well.