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Haji Ali Dargah to open inner sanctorum to women in a month!

The trust has agreed to implement the Bombay High Court order to allow women in the inner sanctorum of the Dargah, which was banned by the trust in 2011

In a statement disregarding its own move, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will grant the same access to woman in the inner sanctorum of the dargah.

The trust has agreed to implement the Bombay High Court order to allow women in the inner sanctorum of the Dargah, which was banned by the trust in 2011. This ban met heavy criticism all over, following which Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court against the ban, calling it unconstitutional.

The Bombay High Court had said an entry ban violated women’s fundamental rights and asked the state to ensure protection for female devotees. The PIL argued that court should restore shrine’s regulations when women were allowed into the sanctum sanctorum albeit through separate queues and at restricted timings.

It had been argued that the 2011 ban violates the women’s right to freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution. The PIL stated that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.

The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had not been able to justify the ban legally or otherwise, and moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban on women from entering the inner sanctorum of the renowned Muslim shrine.

According to the reports, the Supreme Court had questioned the need for separate entry to men and women in the dargah, to which the Trust’s counsel replied that it had always been that way.  “We are concerned only about equal access to women and not in the reason as to why the trust is doing it now,” the bench said. The bench had also remarked that “if you are not allowing both men and women to go beyond a point, there is no problem. But if you are allowing some to go beyond a point while others are not, it is a problem”.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted time to the trust and disposed off its appeal against the Bombay High Court order asking it to give equal access to women also.

This development is likely to bolster a larger campaign for allowing women entry into shrines and strike down ‘gender bias’ among religious leaders. Earlier this year, activist Trupti Desai and hundreds of women entered the holy Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. A similar case for lifting decades-old ban at Kerala’s Sabarimala Shrine is being heard in Supreme Court as well.

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