Haji Ali Dargah to Allow Women Into Sanctum Sanctorum, Trust Tells SC

Haji Ali dargah to give women complete access. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Haji Ali dargah to give women complete access. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: Women will be granted access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai, the dargah trust told the Supreme Court on Monday and sought four weeks to make the requisite infrastructural changes.

A bench comprising Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao granted time to the trust and disposed of its appeal against the Bombay high court order asking it to give equal access to women also.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the trust, said an additional affidavit had been filed on behalf of the dargah trust saying it was willing to allow women inside the shrine.

On October 17, the apex court had extended the stay granted by the Bombay high court to facilitate an appeal against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah in Mumbai.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed hope that the trust, which had challenged the high court judgment, “will take a stand which is progressive”.

Subramanium had also assured the bench that he was on a “progressive mission” and said all holy books and scriptures promoted equality and nothing that was regressive in character should be suggested.

The trust moved the apex court 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 high court, on August 26, had held that the ban contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the constitution and said women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.

The high court had allowed a PIL filed by two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, from the NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, challenging the ban on women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah from 2012.

It had granted a six-week stay on the order on request of the dargah trust so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

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 judgment, had also noted that the “right to manage the trust cannot override the right to practice religion itself”.