Bombay HC passes historic verdict, allows women to enter Haji Ali dargah

Bombay HC passes historic verdict, allows women to enter Haji Ali dargah
Haji Ali dargah

In a historic verdict, the Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that there can be no discrimination on who is allowed to enter the inner sanctorum and permitted the entry of women up to the restricted grave area of the famous Haji Ali dargah located off the Worli seashore.

A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite-Dhere, who had reserved its order a few months ago, passed the ruling. But it stayed the judgement for six weeks to allow an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The HC also directed the state government to give necessary protection to the respondents. The court’s ruling came on a PIL filed on June 28 by NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and women activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman.

Hailing the verdict, ‘Bhumata Brigade’ chief Trupti Desai said it is a victory of women. ”Both women and men should be allowed to enter all temples across the country to offer prayer,” she added.

The state government had told the court that women should be barred from entering the inner sanctorum of the dargah only if it was so enshrined in the Quran. “The ban on women’s entry cannot be justified on the basis of an expert’s interpretation of the Quran,” argued advocate general Shrihari Aney.

On whether the court could interfere in the customs and traditions of a religion, Aney said, “If the religion (Islam) is going to fall by allowing women the entry, then the ban should prevail over fundamental rights.”

The dargah trust defended its stand, saying it was referred in the Quran that allowing women inside the dargah of a male saint was a grievous sin. Advocate Shoaib Memon said, “Women are not allowed inside mosques in Saudi Arabia. They are given a separate place to pray. We (trust) have not barred women. It is simply regulated for their safety. The trust not only administers the dargah but also manages the affairs of the religion.”

With inputs from PTI

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