The Bombay High Court recently gave women the freedom to enter the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah, but the dargah trust has now approached the Supreme Court to appeal against that decision.
On August 26, the Bombay HC had allowed women to enter all areas of the Haji Ali Dargah and negated the ban imposed on them by the dargah trust claiming that it was in contradiction with the Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution which holds that no discrimination in terms of gender should take place.
The HC verdict came on a petition by Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz of NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan who questioned the bizarre ban on women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the famous dargah for years now. The PIL said that the dargah trust has no power to stop anyone from entering the place and cannot meddle with anybody’s way of practising religion.
The Bombay HC came up with a 56-page judgement where it held that the “right to manage the Trust cannot override the right to practice religion itself,” as reported by TOI.
Even the dargah trust failed to justify why it does not want women to enter the inner sanctum. So it was proved in the court that women’s entry has nothing to do with the religion itself and that it would not bring any major change into the way Islam works.
The trust also tried to establish the fact that it wants the ban so that cases of sexual harassment do not take place at the shrine and that it is only for the safety of women. Even this argument was rejected by the court.Initially, the Maharashtra government had been in favour of the ban and ordered the court that if the women’s entry ban is written in the Quran, then it should be so in the dargah.
The court finally came to the conclusion that the activities, objectives and the agenda of the dargah trust are not guided by any tradition and that it is a public entity and so anybody can join it with no discrimination in terms of caste, creed, class or gender.
Picture credit- DNA