Haji Ali Dargah case: Women allowed to enter inner sanctum; HC ruling to be challenged


Mumbai: In a major victory for women, the Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that there can be no discrimination on who is allowed to enter the inner sanctorum of the famousHaji Ali Dargah here.

Haji Ali verdict: Bombay High Court lifts ban on women’s entry; trust to challenge order in SC

Women are allowed in inner sanctum, the Bombay High Court said in its ruling. The high court also directed the state government to give necessary protection to the respondents.

The high court passed its order on the plea filed by a women’s group challenging the ban on entry of women inside the inner sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah.

The plea was filed on June 28. The order was passed by the division bench of justices VM Kanade and Revati Mohite Dhere who had reserved its order a few months ago.

Hailing the verdict, ‘Bhumata Brigade’ chief Trupti Desai said this is a victory of women. ”Both women and men should be allowed to enter all temples across the country to offer prayer,” she added.

Very happy, this is a great step towards justice for Muslim women, Zakia Soman, petitioner in Haji Ali Dargah case said.

However, the High Court ruling is likely to be most challenged in superior court. The HC should not have interfered but now that they have given a decision against us we will approach SC, said Haji Rafat of MIM.

Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz had filed the public interest litigation (PIL), which stated that gender justice was inherent in Quran and the decision contravened the Hadiths, which stated there was no prohibition on women visiting graves.

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

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

The dargah trust defended its stand, saying it was referred in the Quran that allowing women inside the dargah of a male saint was 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 the religion.”