The Bombay High Court Wednesday asked the Haji Ali Dargah Trust to take a decision on allowing women to enter the inner sanctorum of the dargah through a separate entry, as suggested earlier. Otherwise, the court said, it would decide how relief could be granted to the petitioners.
Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. The women have challenged the ban on women’s entry into the Haji Ali Dargah.
The court questioned if the suggestions given by it had been considered by the trust.
On the last date, it was requested to permit women to enter the inner sanctorum from a separate entrance as permitted prior to 2012, said the HC.
The petitioners had earlier maintained that women were allowed to enter into the sanctorum (mazaar) until 2012 and were an entry thereafter on account of advice given by certain priests. The trust had, however, maintained that this was not true.
The court said it had requested the trustees to consider the request and amicably resolve the dispute. “No decision has been taken. Before the next date, the trustees should apply their mind and consider this suggestion and take a decision. If such decision is not taken the court will look into how such relief can be granted to the petitioner,” said the court. It said the decision taken by the trustees should be placed before the court in two weeks.
The petitioners’ lawyer, meanwhile, said even when a meeting was fixed up, the trust did not turn up, adding that the issue of “some women coming to the dargah dressed inappropriately”, could also be looked into.
The court had earlier observed that in this case, the state did not want to take a stand on one view or the other suggesting that in “sensitive” matters like these, an amicable settlement should be arrived at by members of the community.
Niaz said they had approached the court to find a solution to the matter and were willing to resolve the issue “amicably” as long as the trust was willing to consider their demand of allowing women inside.