The Supreme Court Friday asked the management of Haji Ali Dargah Trust to take a “progressive stand” against its practice of restricting women’s access to the inner sanctum of the dargah. “Try and take a stand which is progressive…nothing regressive should be suggested,” said a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur as it posted the appeal of the Trust on October 17.
Agreeing to extend the interim stay on the Bombay High Court judgment till October 17, the apex court said, “There’s a problem if women aren’t allowed beyond a point but men are.” The Haji Ali Dargah’s counsel Gopal Subramanium assured SC that it will come up with a concrete solution and won’t take a regressive stand even though it appeals against HC order.
The bench also observed that the issue regarding restricting women’s entry was also being argued in relation to Kerala’s Sabrimala temple matter and that it seemed all religions had these problems. “This may make it a secular exercise,” remarked the bench while wondering if both the temple and the dargah matters should be heard together.
The Bombay High Court had in August lifted the ban imposed on women from entering the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah, in Mumbai. 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.
The PIL had stated that gender justice is inherent in the Quran, and there is no prohibition on women visiting graves. Prior to 2011, the Dargah did not discriminate against women and allowed free entry of people across religions.