Published On : Mon, Oct 24th, 2016

We will grant access to women on par with men: Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah trust tells SC

hajialiThe Haji Ali Dargah Trust on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it will grant access to women on par with men, into the inner sanctum of the dargah.

The top court has granted four weeks time to Dargah Trust to make requisite infrastructural changes for granting access to women, reported news agency.

The Haji Ali Dargah Trust’s had challenging the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Muslim shrine in South Mumbai.

The apex court had on October 7 extended the stay on the entry of women in dargah till October 17 after the dargah management said that it would come out with a progressive stand in two weeks.

On August 26, the Bombay High Court held that the ban imposed by the Trust, prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said that women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.

Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had petitioned the Bombay High Court against the ban, calling it unconstitutional. Prior to 2011, the dargah did not discriminate against women and allowed free entry of people across religions. On March 2011, the dargah’s board of trustees imposed a ban on women’s entry, calling it a “grievous sin”.

On July 10, 2015, a bench headed by Justice VM Kanade set aside the previous order framing eight questions by an earlier bench of the High Court on maintainability and decided to hear the PIL on merits.

The High Court had held that the Trust had no power to alter or modify the mode or manner of religious practices of any individual or any group. The High Court in its 56-page judgement had also noted that the “right to manage the Trust cannot override the right to practice religion itself”.