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Women cannot be barred from entering Shani Shinganapur: HC

The high court while underlining the need for giving equal access to women also stated that any temple or person imposing restrictions can face a six-month jail term under a Maharashtra law, and asked the government to make a statement if it is worried about the sanctity of a deity.

The observations were made by a division bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice M S Sonak during the hearing of a PIL by senior advocate Nilima Vartak and activist Vidya Bal, challenging the bar on entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

“There is no law that prevents entry of women in any place. If you allow men then you should allow women also. If a male can go and pray before the deity then why not women? It is the state government’s duty to protect the rights of women,” Justice Waghela said. “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.
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