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Women at Haji Ali: Bombay HC to wait for SC order on Sabarimala

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Jan 19, 2016, 5:05 am IST
Updated : Jan 19, 2016, 5:05 am IST

The Bombay high court on Monday said it would wait for the Supreme Court to pass an order on entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala before deciding on a similar application where a group of wom

The Bombay high court on Monday said it would wait for the Supreme Court to pass an order on entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala before deciding on a similar application where a group of women is seeking entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

The division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Revati Mohite-Dere was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Noorjehan Safia Niaz and another woman challenging the Haji Ali Dargah trust’s decision to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum. The bench said that both the matters were similar involving entry of women in religious shrines and hence they would wait and see what view would the apex court took on the issue. While adjourning the matter for hearing on February 3, the judges also asked Advocate General Srihari Aney to submit arguments on the next occasion in the case involving a ‘sensitive’ issue.

The petition in the high court has sought interim relief to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum at Haji Ali Durgah until the court finally decides on the matter. The contention of the petitioner is that they were visiting the dargah since their childhood and were never stopped, so this decision was gender biased and violated the petitioner’s fundamental rights. Their lawyer Raju Moray had also pointed out that women are allowed in other dargahs in the city. On the directions of court, trustees had reconsidered their decision, but informed the court that the ban would continue.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple, which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises. The temple, however, allows only those women to enter who have reached the menopause stage. Women of all ages are prohibited from entering the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah. The trustees of the dargah have stated before the court that entry of women in close proximity to the grave of a male Muslim saint is considered as a grievous sin in Islam and the decision had been taken considering the safety of women from an ‘uncomfortable situation’ also because that part of the dargah is crowded.