Women’s entry into Haji Ali: Bombay HC to decide today

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court is expected to pronounce its judgement on the plea filed by a women’s group challenging the ban on entry of women inside the inner sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah.

The plea was filed on June 28.

A division bench of justices VM Kanade and Revati Mohite Dhere had reserved its order a few months ago. Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz had filed the public interest litigation (PIL), which stated that gender justice was inherent in Quran and the decision contravened the Hadiths, which stated there was no prohibition on women visiting graves.

The state government had told the court that women should be barred from entering the inner sanctorum of the dargah only if it was so enshrined in the Quran. “The ban on women’s entry cannot be justified on the basis of an expert’s interpretation of the Quran,” argued advocate general Shrihari Aney.

On whether the court could interfere in the customs and traditions of a religion, Aney said, “If the religion (Islam) is going to fall by allowing women the entry, then the ban should prevail over fundamental rights.”

The dargah trust defended its stand, saying it was referred in the Quran that allowing women inside the dargah of a male saint was a grievous sin.

Advocate Shoaib Memon said, “Women are not allowed inside mosques in Saudi Arabia. They are given a separate place to pray. We (trust) have not barred women. It is simply regulated for their safety. The trust not only administers the dargah but also manages the affairs of the religion.”