Haji Ali Dargah Trust tells SC: Ready to permit entry of women in sanctum sanctorum

New Delhi [India], Oct. 24 : The Haji Ali Dargah Trust on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it is ready to implement the Bombay High Court's order to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine located in South Mumbai.

The apex court had on October 7 extended the stay on the entry of women in dargah till October 17 after the dargah management said that it would come out with a progressive stand in two weeks.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, was hearing a plea by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust challenging the Bombay High Court ruling to provide equal right of entry for women and men in the Dargah's sanctum sanctorum.

On August 26, the Bombay High Court held that the ban imposed by the Trust, prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.

The order came on a public interest litigation petition filed by two women from the NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.

It held that the trust had no power to alter or modify the mode or manner of religious practices of any individual or any group.

Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had petitioned the Bombay High Court against the ban, calling it unconstitutional.

Prior to 2011, the dargah did not discriminate against women and allowed free entry of people across religions.

On March 2011, the dargah's board of trustees imposed a ban on women's entry, calling it a "grievous sin".

On July 10, 2015, a bench headed by Justice V.M. Kanade set aside previous order framing eight questions by an earlier bench of the High Court on maintainability and decided to hear the PIL on merits.

Source: ANI