India, Mumbai, August 26: In a landmark judgement by a division bench comprising of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, the Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the entry of women in the inner sanctum of the iconic Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai. it is important to know that this is not a new right that women have claimed for themselves. As is well known, and documented in the judgment, the sanctum sanctorum was always open to women – the barriers to their entry only went up as late as 2012
The division bench ruled that the ban order by the Trust contravenes under
- Article 14 (equality before law within India),
- 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex)
- 19 (1)(d) (to move freely throughout the territory of India)
- 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Indian Constitution.
The trust requested for a stay on the order for further appeal in the Supreme Court which was granted by the bench for six weeks. Noor Jahan of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan had filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in November 2014.
According to the litigation filed, women have been visiting the dargah since childhood and then suddenly in June 2012 the entry of female was restricted to the inner sanctum inside the dargah. The trustees of Haji Ali dargah had told the court that women standing close to a Muslim saint is considered a sin in Islam.
It was also said that current arrangement provides for a secure place for women for offering prayers. ""This has been decided in the interest of women and they are close to the inner sanctorum of the tomb as far as possible," the trustees had mentioned.
Thereafter advocate Raju Moray said that it was a clear case of gender discrimination because of which women felt like second class citizens. Moray, who was appearing for the petitioner, said that the decision taken by the trust was as told by maulanas and maulvis.
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