[Rajat Sinha and Stuti Bhargava, students of National Law University, Jodhpur, write about the essential religious practices in lieu of the Sabarimala Verdict.]
It is not unknown to us that deciding questions of theology has always been a brain-wracking process for the judiciary. However, are we not in the first place supposed to question the capacity and competency of the courts of law in deciding these questions of religion? Another million-dollar question that has never been sufficiently acknowledged despite its relevance in the present-day tussle involving religious liberties is – Who is the State to dictate what is religion to man? Innumerable contemporary judgments are witness to this act of State interference into a domain that should be left to the discretion of man and man alone. Issues concerning religion are not just countless but centuries old, archaic to the extent that they were in place even when the State did not exist, to begin with. Quite a few verdicts of the courts in the recent past have led us to question the foundation of the basic religious doctrines, principles and tests that the State employs to dictate and restructure religion. Assuming for the sake of argument that the State does to a large extent enjoy the power to decide the constituents of religion, the factors on the grounds of which the State does so should not take away the power of the people to decide what they want their beliefs and ideologies to be. This paper seeks to analyse and critique these religious doctrines in light of the Sabarimala verdict and attempts to provide an alternative to the obsolete and seemingly redundant ways of the court.