In a landmark judgment, the Bombay High Court today lifted the ban on entry of woman in the sanctum santorum of Haji Ali Dargah in the city. According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Raju More, the HC said that ban on women’s entry is unconstitutional. The HC said that women should be permitted in the dargah along with men and Maharashtra government should ensure their safety. The ban imposed on women is contrary to the fundamental rights of a person as provided in Constitution, according to the court.
A Bench of VM Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere said the ban was violative of articles 14 (Equality before law), 15 (which prohibits discrimination based on religious lines), 19 (has provisions for several freedoms) and 21 (provides protection of personal life and liberty). Dargah Trust, which is in favour of the ban, however, said that they will approach the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, reactions have started pouring in from various quarters including the petitioners and the Dargah Trust. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Haji Rafat said the HC should not have interfered in the matter. “But now that they have given a decision against us we will approach SC.” Petitioner Zakia Soman hailed the HC verdict as a “great step towards justice for Muslim women.” Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai said: “This is a historic decision. We welcome the HC order, big win for women.”
The women were stopped from entering the sanctum santorum of the dargah in 2012, though there was no such ban in previous years. A PIL challenging the ban on the entry of women into the inner sanctum of the Dargah was filed by Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman and the NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. The ban was imposed in 2012 by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust citing some religious traditions as the reason. The Haji Ali Trust, as the respondent in the case, defended the ban saying that entry of women in close proximity to the tomb of a male saint would be seen as a grievous sin in Islam.
The Maharashtra government had in February told the Bombay High Court that unless the Dargah Board is able to prove that the ban is a part of their religious practice with reference to the Quran, women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali. The trust had claimed that separate arrangements have been made for women to walk up to a certain point from where they can offer prayers, but are not permitted to touch the tomb of a male saint as it is a sin in Islam.
(With ANI inputs)