Published On : Fri, Aug 26th, 2016

Bombay HC allows women’s entry into inner area of Haji Ali dargah


HC says women should be permitted in the dargah along with men and Maharashtra government should ensure their safety.

HC says the ban imposed on women is contrary to the fundamental rights of a person as provided in the Constitution.

A division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite Dhere asked the Maharashtra government to implement this order allowing the entry of woman. However, since the trust sought for time to challenge the order in the Supreme Court, the High Court stayed its order for six weeks. The court has asked the state to give necessary protection to the respondents.

The ban was imposed in 2012 by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust citing some religious traditions as the reason. Two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz had filed the PIL challenging the ban on entry of woman. The PIL states that gender justice is inherent in Quran and the decision contravenes the Hadiths, which proves that there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.

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

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

The dargah trust defended its stand saying that it is referred in Quran that allowing women close proximity to the dargah of a male saint is 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 religion.”