In a landmark verdict, the Bombay High Court on Friday allows women to enter inner sanctum of Haji Ali dargah in central Mumbai. It says the ban imposed on women is contrary to the fundamental rights of a person as provided in Constitution.
However, women can't enter the shrine just yet as the Haji Ali trust that wants to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, reports NDTV.
Therefore, the Bombay High Court verdict stands suspended for six weeks.
HC should not have interfered but now that they have given a decision against us we will approach SC: Haji Rafat,MIM pic.twitter.com/2In3CTJvIl— ANI (@ANI_news) August 26, 2016
The demand for equal access to the Haji Ali Dargah was first raised by Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court in August 2014 against the “blatant discrimination on the ground of gender alone”.
The PIL states that gender justice is inherent in Quran and the decision contravenes the Hadith, which proves that there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.
Zakia Soman, the petitioner in this case expressed her happiness over the verdict.
Very happy, this is a great step towards justice for Muslim women: Zakia Soman,Petitioner in Haji Ali Dargah case pic.twitter.com/b5HtFN909y— ANI (@ANI_news) August 26, 2016
Activist Trupti Desai welcomed the ruling and termed it as a "big win for women".
This is an historic decision, we welcome the HC order, big win for women: Trupti Desai on Haji Ali Dargah case pic.twitter.com/nVqsa3ybVJ— ANI (@ANI_news) August 26, 2016
Desai has been a prominent face against this ban. She had failed in her attempt to enter the inner sanctum of the dargah in April this year.
Men have unhindered access to the actual burial place of the saint, and are also allowed to touch the tomb.
The Maharashtra government had 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, the then Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney had argued.
On whether the court can interfere in the customs and traditions of a religion, Aney had 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 had 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 had 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."
(Feature image source: Twitter)