Category: Social Isuues



  • With no will to enforce the 1982 Act, girls from marginalised communities in Karnataka are still trafficked


  • More than thirty-six years after the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act of 1982 was passed, the State government is yet to issue the rules for administering the law. Meanwhile the practice of dedicating young girls to temples as an offering to appease the gods persists not just in Karnataka, but has also spread to neighbouring Goa

Recent Studies:

  • Two new studies on the devadasi practice by the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, paint a grim picture of the apathetic approach of the legislature and enforcement agencies to crack down on the practice, particularly prevalent among oppressed communities of north Karnataka
  • A disturbing aspect revealed by the new studies is that special children, with physical or mental disabilities, are more vulnerable to be dedicated as devadasis — nearly one in five (or 19%) of the devadasis that were part of the NLSIU study exhibited such disabilities
  • The NLS researchers found that girls from socio-economically marginalised communities continued to be victims of the custom, and thereafter were forced into the commercial sex racket.
  • The TISS study buttresses the point by stressing that the devadasi system continues to receive customary sanction from families and communities.
  • Reporting of cases pertaining to the custom under the Karnataka law is very low, with only four cases filed between 2011 and 2017. None of these cases were filed in Ballari, where village and district authorities indicated that identifying and preventing the incidents was difficult. The law is used sparingly, and focuses on prosecution (including of the victims themselves) with no framework for rehabilitation.
  • Despite sufficient evidence of the prevalence of the practice and its link to sexual exploitation, recent legislations such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act of 2015 have not made any reference to it as a form of sexual exploitation of children, the NLSIU’s Centre for Child and the Law noted in its report
  • Dedicated children are also not explicitly recognised as children in need of care and protection under JJ Act, despite the involvement of family and relatives in their sexual exploitation. India’s extant immoral trafficking prevention law or the proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, also do not recognise these dedicated girls as victims of trafficking for sexual purposes.
  • The State’s failure to enhance livelihood sources for weaker sections of society fuels the continuation of the practice, the studies underline. More inclusive socio-economic development apart, NLSUI has mooted a legislative overhaul and a more pro-active role from State agencies.

About Devadasi:

  • Devadasi system is a religious practice in parts of southern India, including Andhra Pradesh, whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty and requires the girl to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members. Such girls are known as jogini. They are forbidden to enter into a real marriage
  • There have been opinions of many hues and colors about the genesis and growth of this system. There are many factors that come into consideration when we try to trace the origin and the development of this intriguing system.
  • Factors like religious beliefs, caste system, male domination and economic stress have been recognized as the stimulants behind the perpetuation of this phenomenon.

Historical Perspective:

  • The begining could be perhaps mapped out in the inscription found in temples. “The word Emperumandiyar which was used in the sense of Vaishnavas before 966 A.D. got the meaning of dancing girls, attached to Vishnu temples, in inscriptions of about 1230-1240
    A.D. in the time of Raja Raya III.
  • In Maharashtra, they are called ‘Devadasis’ meaning female servants of God’.It should also be noted that in many quarters the emergence of the “devadasis” has been linked to the downfall of Buddhism in India.”That the devadasis were Buddhist nuns can be deduced from many evidences. They are unknown to ancient India. Jaatakas, Kautillya or Vatsayana do not mention them, but later Puranas found them useful.
  • The system started only after the fall of Buddhism and records of them start appearing around 1000 A.D.”
  • It is viewed that the “devadasis” are the Buddhist nuns who were degraded to the level of prostitutes after the temples were taken over by the Brahmins during the times of their resurgence after the fall of Buddhism

Times Report:

  • The Devadasi system was set up, according to a Times of India report (10-11-1987) as a result of a conspiracy between the feudal class and the priests (Brahmins). The latter, with their ideological and religious hold over the peasants and craftsmen, devised a means that gave prostitution their religious sanction. Poor, low-caste girls, initially sold at private auctions, were later dedicated to the temples. They were then initiated into prostitution


Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court granted women of all ages the right to enter the Sabarimala temple, reversing the Kerala shrine’s tradition of barring girls and women of menstruating age—10-50 years.

History of the Case:

  • 1991- HC of Kerala upheld the state’s ban on Menstruating women from entering the temple
  • 2006- A PIL against the Kerala HC order was
  • filed by the Indian Young Lawyers Association,
  • contending the ban violated constitutional rights of women.
  • 2016-The Devaswom said, there is a reasonable
  • classification by which certain class of women
  • are excluded. The SC enquired if the defence was implying that menstruation was associated with purity of women.
  • 2017- The SC referred the Sabarimala case to the Constitution Bench.
  • July 17, 2018: Five-judge Constitution bench starts hearing the matter.
  • July 19: Supreme Court says women have a fundamental right to enter the temple and questioned the rationale behind the age group.
  • July 24: Supreme Court made it clear that the ban on entry of women would be tested on “constitutional ethos”.
  • July 25: Nair Service Society tells Supreme Court the celibate nature of Sabarimala temple’s presiding deity Lord Ayyappa is protected by the Constitution.
  • July 26: Supreme Court observes it can’t remain oblivious to ban on entry of women as they were barred on “physiological ground” of menstruation.
  • July 31: Supreme Court says constitutional scheme prohibiting exclusion has “some value” in a “vibrant democracy”.
  • August 1: Supreme Court reserves verdict.
  • September 28: Supreme Court, in 4:1 verdict, allows entry of women in Sabarimala temple, says banning females’ entry into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women.


  • Whether Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules permits a ‘religious denomination’ to ban the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years. Does this practice violate Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution by restricting the entry of women on the grounds of sex?
  • Whether the practice constitutes an ‘essential religious practice’ under Article 25? Whether a religious institution can assert its claim to do so under the right to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion?
  • Whether the exclusionary practice based on a biological factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to ‘discrimination’? Whether this practice violates the core of Articles 14, 15 and 17?
  • Whether Sabarimala temple has a denominational character? If it does, is it permissible on the part of a ‘religious denomination’ managed out of the Consolidated Fund of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to indulge in practices violating constitutional principles/morality embedded in Articles 14, 15(3), 39(a) and 51-A(e)?


Supreme Court Judgement:

  • The verdict was passed by 4:1 majority by a bench with the sole woman on the bench and the author of a dissenting opinion.
  • It held that the practice violated the fundamental rights to equality, liberty and freedom of religion, Articles 14, 15, 19(1), 21 and 25(1). It struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu
  • Places of Public Worship Act as unconstitutional. Rule 3(b) allowed for Hindu denominations to exclude women from public places of worship, if the exclusion was based on ‘custom’.
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  • ”Right to pray” in the temple for women between 10 and 50 years of age won over the ‘right to wait’ campaign as the Supreme Court condemned the prohibition as “hegemonic patriarchy”. Patriarchy cannot trump freedom to practice religion, it said.
  • Supreme court observed that one side we pray to goddesses; on the other, women of a certain age are considered ‘impure’. This dualistic approach is nothing but patriarchy practised in religion. The ban ‘exacts’ more purity from women than men.
  • It said that exclusion on grounds of biological and physiological features like menstruation was unconstitutional. It amounted to discrimination based on a biological factor exclusive to gender. It was violative of the right to equality and dignity of women.
  • In a separate, but concurring opinion, the apex court held that to treat women as the children of a lesser God was to blink at the Constitution, the prohibition was a form of untouchability. The logic behind the ban was that presence of women deviated men from celibacy. This was placing the burden of a men’s celibacy on women thus, stigmatising women and stereotyping them. Individual dignity of women could not be at the mercy of a mob. Morality was not ephemeral. It transcended biological and physiological barriers.
  • The Creator was a transcending one. Physiological and biological barriers created by rigid social dogma had no place.
  • The Sabarimala prohibition was a prejudice against women, which was zealously propagated and was not an essential part of religion.
  • SC allows women of all age groups to enter temple. Rules custom of barring women is violative of Art 25 (Clause 1) and Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Worship. The majority view declared Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act of 1965, which mandates the prohibition in Sabarimala temple, as ultra vires the Constitution.
  • The Rule violated the fundamental right of a Hindu woman to offer worship at a place of her choice. Right to worship is equally available to men and women. The majority on the Bench agreed that Ayyappa devotees do not form a separate religious denomination.
  • Ayyappa devotees do not form a separate denomination just because of their devotion to Lord Ayyappa, but it was only a part of Hindu worship.

Dissenting Note:

  • Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Constitution Bench, dissented from the majority opinion, held that the determination of what constituted an essential practice in a religion should not be decided by judges on the basis of their personal viewpoints.
  • She held that essentiality of a religious practice or custom had to be decided within the religion. It was a matter of personal faith. India was a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gave freedom to practice even irrational or illogical customs and usages.
  • Also observed that the freedom to practice their beliefs was enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution. Harmonisation of fundamental rights with religion included providing freedom for diverse sects to practise their customs and beliefs.
  • The Judge held that there were strong, plausible reasons to show that Ayyappa devotees had attributes of a religious denomination. They have a distinct name, properties. Besides, the Sabarimala temple was not funded out of the Consolidated Fund.


Some other Places where women are restricted to visit:

  • Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai: Haji Ali Dargah, located along the coast of Mumbai and one of its most prominent landmarks, has equally remained in news because of an ongoing legal battle for women to gain access to it.
  • The 15th-century Sufi saint dargah does not also women devotees close to the grave. The trustees said they are in a unanimous decision that a woman near the grave of a male Muslim saint is a sin as per Islam. Also, according to Article 26 of the Constitution, the Trust has the fundamental right to manage its own religious affair. Similarly, at the Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi, women are allowed close to the door but not where Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya is buried.
  • Patbausi Satra, Assam: Situated in the Barpeta town in Assam, the shrine which is the abode of various Vaishnav gurus, cites the “purity” of the temple as a reason to deny women entry. Menstruation is another reason.
  • Lord Kartikeya Temple, Pushkar: The temple that dates back to 5th century BC, worships the bachelor God Kartikeya. People believe that the God curses women who enter the temple premises resulting in the ban.
  • Ranakpur Temple, Rajasthan: The spectacular temple complex, built in the 15th century AD, is one of the five major Jain pilgrimage sites. The complex, made of 1,444 white carved marbles, is dedicated to the Tirthankaras. However, a large board outside the temple has clear instructions as to when and how can a woman visit here. While the temple requires women to cover their knees, they can’t visit while on their periods.
  • Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram: Known as the richest temple in the world, the Shree Padmanabhaswamy temple which is the home of several treasure troves, has a weird rule. Women devotees here too aren’t allowed inside the temple chambers. A few years ago, the authorities even barred a woman expert from the Archaeological Survey of India from going inside the temple.



Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion, upheld Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy that fulfils the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to a large, marginalised population living in abject poverty.

History of Aadhar:

  • Aadhar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Indian government to every individual resident of India. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI), which functions under the Planning Commission of India, is responsible for managing Aadhar numbers and Aadhar identification cards.
  • The Aadhar project was initiated as an attempt towards having an individual, unique identification document or number that would obtain all the details, including demographic and biometric information, of every Indian citizen.
  • The first initiative towards a unique nationalised digital identity was the approval of a Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) in 2003 by the NDA government.
  • Focussing on national security and ways by which to deter illegal immigration, the project had proposed different coloured cards for citizens and non-citizens.
  • The pilot project, taken up in April 2003, and covering 29 Lakh people in 13 states appeared to have undergone some change during the course of its implementation, notably in the addition of biometrics for all adults and in the doing away of different aren’t coloured cards. Several organisations led by the NIC helped to set up an infrastructure that included 20 centres to handle the citizen database.
  • With the change in the governing party, an empowered group of ministers (EGOM) headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee was formed. A proposal to set up the UIDAI was mooted in August 2008 and soon after, the decision to notify the UIDAI as an executive authority under the planning commission was taken.
  • The current avatar of the UID scheme or Aadhar and it is called as a centralised, biometrics-based database took shape under the guidance of Nandan Nilekani, erstwhile head of the IT major Infosys, who took over as the first Chairperson of the UIDAI.

Supreme court verdict:

  • The majority view by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri and A.M. Khanwilkar declared Aadhaar a “document of empowerment.” An “unparalleled” identity proof. A document that cannot be duplicated unlike PAN, ration card, and passport.
  • The majority view by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri and A.M. Khanwilkar declared Aadhaar a “document of empowerment.” An “unparalleled” identity proof. A document that cannot be duplicated unlike PAN, ration card, and passport. “It is better to be unique than the best. The best makes you number one, but unique makes you the only one,” Justice Sikri, who authored the majority opinion, wrote. Aadhaar gives dignity to marginalised sections, which outweighs the harm,” said the court in its verdict on 27 petitions that challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and called it a violation of the right to privacy. The court said “very, very minimal data” is collected for Aadhaar, that other documents required for Aadhaar are also proof of identity.
  • The Bench struck down section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allows private entities to use Aadhaar for verification purposes.
  • Section 33(2) that allows UIDAI to share data with specially authorised officers in the interest of national security, was also struck down.


  • Ordinance to criminalise the practise of “triple talaq”- Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance 2018- has been promulgated by the President of India.
  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday passed the Ordinance to amend provisions of the Triple Talaq Bill. President Ram Nath Kovind signed the Ordinance later the same day.


  • The ordinance move comes after the Triple Talaq bill (‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill) got blocked in the Rajya Sabha in the last monsoon session, though the Lok Sabha had cleared it in December 2017.
  • There was an “overpowering urgency” to bring the measure as even though the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 is pending in the Rajya Sabha and despite the Supreme Court has observed that the practice of Triple Talaq is unconstitutional, the practice still carries on. Since January 2017 till the current month,
  • 430 triple talaq cases have been reported, 229 before the Supreme Court verdict and 201 after that.

Ordinance Vs Bill

The government has made three crucial amendments in the original bill

  • The offence will be cognisable only when a complaint is filed by the wife, a relative by blood or by marriage.
  • It was compoundable at the instance of wife on appropriate terms and conditions.
  • Magistrate will have powers to give bail after hearing the wife because this was a private dispute between husband and wife.


  • The Ordinance is applicable to the whole of India but it is not extended to the State of Jammu and Kashmir
  • “Talaq” for the purposes of the Ordinance means as “talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq having the effect of instantaneous and irrevocable divorce pronounced by a Muslim husband “
  • According to the Ordinance, any pronouncement of ‘talaq’ by a Muslim husband to his wife in any manner, spoken or written, shall be void and illegal.
  • Any Muslim husband who communicates the ‘talaq’ orally or in writing may face a punishment up to three years in jail. The punishment may be also extended.
  • The offence will be cognizable only if the complaint is lodged by the victim wife or her close blood relatives. Also, the offence will be compoundable at the instance of the wife on such terms and conditions as deemed fit by the Magistrate. The offence is also bailable, and Magistrate can grant bail, but only after hearing the wife.
  • The Ordinance also states that despite the presence of general laws in force, if a Muslim man pronounces ‘talaq’ to his wife, then the woman and her children are entitled to receive an allowance for subsistence. Such amount can be determined by a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.
  • The Ordinance also states that a Muslim woman is entitled to the custody of her minor children even if her husband has pronounced ‘talaq’ to her.
  • The offence is pronouncing talaq is cognizable if the Muslim woman on whom it is pronounced, communicates the information to a police officer.
  • The offence is also compoundable, if the Muslim woman insists for the same and the Magistrates allows certain terms and conditions which he may determine.
  • A person accused of this offence cannot be granted bail unless an application is filed by the accused after a hearing in the presence of the Muslim woman (on whom talaq is pronounced) is conducted and the Magistrate is satisfied about the reasonable grounds for granting bail.


  • The proposed law was about “gender justice and gender equity” among Muslim women, Muslim women empowerment would strengthen the social fabric and pave way for development of familial relations.
  • The fact that triple talaq has either been banned or has been regulated in 22 Islamic countries. So, the proposed ordinance ins in aligned with global best practise.
  • The practice was against Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality, the Supreme Court has ruled. The chauvinistic and paternalistic practice of husband, as declared by the Supreme court, shall ultra vires not only infringe the right to equality (Article 14) but also is gender discriminatory.


  • India’s top court has ruled, that adultery is no longer a crime. Declaring a colonial-era law that punished the offence with jail time unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.


  • A five-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, finally transported India into the company of countries that no longer consider adultery an offence, only a ground for divorce.
  • The Supreme Court struck down and removed the archaic Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) due to its “manifest arbitrariness” in punishing only men for adultery and for treating a woman as her husband’s property.
  • The CJI declared that the husband is neither master of his wife, nor does he have legal sovereignty over her. He observed that “any system treating a woman with indignity invites the wrath of the Constitution.
  • According to Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a man who has sex with a woman “whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery”.
  • Section 497 treats a woman as a property of her husband and criminalizes adultery through patriarchal control over women’s bodies.
  • Section 497 under the IPC implied that a woman’s body is not her own and, on a whole, it denied women the right to her body in the form of agency, autonomy and independence; and to object of desire and sexual autonomy. This section further violated a woman’s dignity by preventing her from exercising her freedom and agency to formulate choices for herself, which is otherwise guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • Section 497 violative of Article 14 (equality) and Article 15 as it discriminated on grounds of sex and punishes just men. Justice Malhotra observed that Section 497 institutionalised discrimination and was “replete with anomalies and incongruities”, such as an adulterous relationship not constituting an offence if a married woman had her husband’s consent.
  • Referring to “ancient notions” of the man being the seducer and the woman being the victim, is no longer the case today.



  • India has become the first and only SAARC country to have a quit-line number 1800-11-2356 will be printed on products. It will be a national toll-free number.


  • In an advisory to the media, the Union information and broadcasting ministry has asked them to refrain from using the word “Dalit” and instead use Scheduled Caste to refer to the community.


  • The order comes after the Bombay high court asked the ministry to consider issuing a direction to media to stop using the word dalit.
  • The central government had also recently issued an advisory in which the use of Dalit was barred in official communication. In the March circular, the central government had asked all state and Central government departments to avoid the nomenclature “Dalit” for citizens belonging to SC/ST.
  • the constitutional term Schedule Caste in English and its appropriate translation in other regional languages should alone be used for all official transaction, matters dealing, certificates etc., for denoting the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes notified in the Presidential orders issued under Article 341 of the Constitution of India.


  • As the word Dalit does not find mention in the Constitution of India or any statute. Thus the term was unconstitutional.
  • The term ‘Dalit’ has only been used for the purpose of “electoral politics”.
  • The word ‘Scheduled Caste’ is a legal term and as such it is neutral.
  • Its use risked erroneously labelling the entire population of untouchables in India as being united by a radical politics


  • This term has gained a national acceptance and has acted as a unifying force between communities across the country. It has brought the community together across the states, irrespective of language and cultural differences. It has constructed a national identity for the community
  • But for movements, for action, those who suffer the realities of caste oppression need a stronger and more assertive identity, something the cold and form “scheduled caste” terminology cannot provide. This is provided, on the other hand, by the word “Dalit,” with its connotations of resistance and revolt.
  • That Dalit has encompassed more communities than the official term of Scheduled Castes and is sometimes used to refer to all of India’s oppressed peoples.
  • While use of the term might seem to express an appropriate solidarity with the contemporary face of Untouchable politics, there remain major problems in adopting it as a generic term.
  • The word ‘Dalit’ gives a pan-India identity to the community, making it a single homogeneous group, and carries the potential to inspire a national movement, as the Dalits’ movement earlier this month showed.

The word Dalit:

  • It was perhaps first used in this sense by Pune-based social reformer Jyoti Rao Phule, in the context of the oppression faced by the erstwhile “untouchable” castes from other Hindus.
  • Dalit is mostly used to describe communities that have been subjected to untouchability. Such people were excluded from the four-fold varna system of Hinduism and thought of themselves as forming a fifth varna.
  • It was popularised by the economist and reformer B. R. Ambedkar, During the 1970s, the followers of the Dalit Panther Movement of Maharashtra gave currency to the term ‘Dalit’ as a constant reminder of their age-old oppression, denoting both their state of deprivation and the people who are oppressed.
  • This term for them is not a mere name or title, for them it has become an expression of hope, the hope of recovering their past self-identity. The term has gained a new connotation with a more positive meaning.
  • It must be remembered that Dalit does not mean Caste or low-Caste or poor; it refers to the deplorable state or condition to which a large group of people has been reduced by social convention and in which they are now living.
  • “Dalit” has become a unifying word for Scheduled Caste communities, whether Buddhist or Hindu. The word ‘Dalit’ is used as a cultural term for assertion and change.
  • It does not confine itself merely to economic exploitation in terms of appropriation of surplus. It is also related to suppression of culture; a way of life and value system, and more importantly, to the denial of dignity.
    • On the other hand, Scheduled Castes is the official term for Dalits in the opinion of India’s National Commissions for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), who took legal advice that indicated modern legislation does not refer to Dalit and that therefore, it says, it is “unconstitutional” for official documents to do so.
    • In 2004, the NCSC noted that some state governments used Dalits rather than Scheduled Castes in documentation and asked them to desist
    • The limitations of the Scheduled Caste category is that, under Indian law, such people can only be followers of Buddhism, Hinduism or Sikhism.


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