Allowing women inside Haji Ali: Bombay HC says matter is of belief, awaits Sabarimala verdict

“Not sure if we should stir the hornet’s nest,” said Acting Chief Justice V M Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite Dere hearing a PIL seeking entry of women into Haji Ali Dargah’s inner sanctum.

Written by Aamir Khan | Mumbai | Published:January 19, 2016 1:06 am
Haji Ali dargah, Mumbai, Bombay High Court, women mazaar, indian express Bombay High Court

IT is time that women are allowed in religious places. The Bombay High Court observed while highlighting a dilemma if it should adjudicate in matters of religious beliefs. It said nowadays people had become “really intolerant”.

“Not sure if we should stir the hornet’s nest,” said Acting Chief Justice V M Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite Dere hearing a PIL seeking entry of women into Haji Ali Dargah’s inner sanctum.

“In Kolahpur’s Ambadevi Temple too women are not allowed, but in Ajmer women can enter the shrine,” said Justice Kanade. Perhaps the possibility of molestation, the court said, was behind the ban on women. Haji Ali trust had earlier said that for women to be in close proximity of a grave of a male Muslim saint is “grievous sin” in Islam.

The Supreme Court had recently questioned the age-old ban on entry of women who are of menstrual age group in the holy shrine of Sabarimala Temple. The High Court suggested it would be better if the case here could wait till the apex court takes a stand on the issue of Sabarimala Temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.

“If it decides on the issue, then it will be applicable for every place,” said the court.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Dr Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman claimed “gender discrimination behind the restriction imposed between March 2011 and June 2012.”

Their lawyer Raju Moray argued that the ban in Sabarimala is in existence since time immemorial.

“But women were allowed to enter Haji Ali inner sanctum until 2012. I seek that a status quo could be maintained till it’s finally decided,” he submitted.
The rules, he said, were not really this stringent earlier. Haji Ali, the petitioners said, is regarded as a patron saint and even saints are born from the womb of a woman.

A possible solution to the problem, Moray suggested, could be a separate paths for women to reach the sanctum. “If molestation was a problem, then controlling a crowd at railway station also will pose a problem,” argued Moray.

The High Court asked the petitioners to wait for two weeks, expecting a plausible outcome in the Sabarimala case before it could decide on interim relief of status quo.
aamir.khan@expressindia.com

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