Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022 | Last Update : 07:44 AM IST

  India   All India  17 Apr 2019  Women in mosques: SC seeks govt response on gender bias

Women in mosques: SC seeks govt response on gender bias

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 17, 2019, 1:30 am IST
Updated : Apr 17, 2019, 1:30 am IST

Women are not allowed inside most mosques in India although a few have separate entrances for women to go into segregated areas.

The petitioner’s advocate submitted that in Canada women are allowed inside mosques and that in Saudi Arabia, there is a fatwah in that behalf. (Photo: PTI/Representational)
 The petitioner’s advocate submitted that in Canada women are allowed inside mosques and that in Saudi Arabia, there is a fatwah in that behalf. (Photo: PTI/Representational)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a petition from a Muslim couple for allowing women to enter mosques and offer prayers, seeing a common gender issue in the plea and the curbs on women devotees at Kerala’s Sabarimala temple that it had struck down last year.

“We are only hearing you, and may hear you in the future, because of Sabarimala judgment,” said a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde while issuing notices to the Centre and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Wakf board.

On September 28 last year, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, saying a ban on their entry amounted to gender discrimination.

In the current petition, the Pune-based couple has sought the top court’s direction to declare as “illegal” and “unconstitutional” the practice of prohibiting the entry of Muslim women into mosques to offer prayers.

The Muslim couple referred to the Sabarimala temple ruling, which angered conservative Hindus, as a precedent to support their call for women to be allowed to pray at mosques.

While seeking to overturn a centuries-old practice that largely bars women from the places of worship, the petitioners, Yasmeen Peerzade and her husband Zuber Peerzade, said that women were allowed to enter mosques during the time of the Prophet Mohammad.

Women are not allowed inside most mosques in India although a few have separate entrances for women to go into segregated areas.

On Tuesday, while taking up the petition for hearing, Justice Bobde and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer asked the petitioners’ counsel about the practice abroad.

“Who denied you entry? You tried to enter and were denied by virtue of an order or a law? Which other mosques in the world allow women?” asked Justice Bobde.

When Justice Bobde asked if women are allowed in Mecca, Justice Nazeer observed, “I don’t think there is a common congregation.”

The petitioner’s advocate submitted that in Canada women are allowed inside mosques and that in Saudi Arabia, there is a fatwah in that behalf.

Questioning the petitioner, Justice Bobde said, “Can an individual assert his or her right to equality against a non-state player. Is a mosque or temple or church a state?”

“If a person refuses to let you enter his house can you seek police help for it?” asked the court.

“Can the fundamental right to equality be assessed against another human being? Can your demand that a human being treat you how he treats anybody else? Article 14 is for the state. Does that apply to an individual?” asked Justice Bobde.

The counsel for petitioners said, “At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations, while they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction.”

Referring to the Sabarimala judgment, the petitioners said, “This Court in the case of Sabarimala held that ‘religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity. Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.”They said if the petition is allowed it would benefit the citizens of this country generally as the rule of law is essential for democracy and such brazen violation of law can be stopped by the orders of this court only.

Tags: supreme court, sabarimala temple, women entry in mosques