In a landmark decision, the Haji Ali Trust told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will grant women access into the sanctum sanctorum of the iconic dargah and asked for four weeks to implement the order.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted time to the trust and disposed off its appeal against the Bombay High Court order asking it to give equal access to women also.
The hearing however saw the court nudge the Trust on why it had separate entrances for men and women into the dargah.
"There may be women who do not want separate entrances. Why do you have to distinguish between man and woman here?” Chief Justice Thakur queried.
In the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had taken a serious view of the religious "exclusion and restrictions” women suffer. It had pointed to Kerala's Sabarimala temple and the Haji Ali dargah to note that 'exclusion' was practised by both Hindus and Muslims and the "problem needs to be addressed''.
"Exclusion is not there if nobody is allowed after a certain point. There is exclusion if women are not allowed after a certain point and men are," Chief Justice Thakur had defined the term.
On August 26, the Bombay High Court lifted a 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 2011 ban violates the women’s right to freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution. The PIL stated that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.