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Vidya Bal demands action against “defiance of court orders” in Shani Shingnapur

Devotees at the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar—Photo: AFP  

Activist Vidya Bal, one of the petitioners in the Shani Shingnapur temple issue in the Bombay High Court, on Saturday demanded action on the violation of the Bombay High Court orders against by those who had stopped Bhumata Ranragini Brigade leader Trupti Desai and others from entering the temple premises.

Speaking to The Hindu after Ms Desai’s was detained in Ahmednagar, ms Bal said, “This is a very tricky situation. Even after the High Court recording the state’s stand, women are not allowed inside. This is a crime. Those violating provisions of the Act can be punished and also have to pay a fine.” Ms Bal was referring to the Maharashtra Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956.

On April 1, at a Bombay High Court hearing of the petition filed by Bal with activist Neelima Vartak over the issue of discriminatory treatment meted out to women at the Shani Shingnapur temple, the acting advocate general Rohit Deo told the division bench that the Maharashtra government was against any gender discrimination. The division bench had said, “Ultimately [women worshipping in places where men worship] is the fundamental right of women, and it is [the State’s] fundamental duty to protect these rights under Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution of India. […] and ensure that they are fully realised and are not encroached upon by any authority or individuals.”

Ms Bal described the detention of the activists as “defiance of court orders. No one can be prevented from entering the temple. An FIR should be registered against those who are doing so.”

Asked why she had sought legal recourse under an act which has been in place for 60 years, against a custom that had been followed for a very long time, Ms Bal said, “The incident that took place on January 26 this year [when more than 500 women were detained for entering the temple] moved us. And then I, along with my advocate friend, decided to take it up legally and seek the implementation of the Act.”

Content with the role played by the court, she said, “We are glad that the petition was taken up so fast and the judgment was passed in no time. However, the way forward to ensure that no one opposes the court order and we are looking forward to having a dialogue with the trustees of the temple to that this to its logical end.” She added, “We not just seeking the entry of women at the Shani Temple, but also [at] the Triambakeshwar temple in Nashik.”

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 11:36:37 AM |

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