Women may get entry to inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah soon

New Delhi, Oct 18:  According to a report in Times of India, The Haji Ali Dargah management is all set to inform the Supreme Court that it would allow women entry into the sanctum, which houses the tomb of Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.

Appearing for the Dargah, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium informed a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur that he had been able to persuade the Dargah management to devise a mechanism to allow women’s entry into the inner sanctum. However, he could not elaborate as the bench did not take up the case due to paucity of time.

Speaking to TOI, Subramanium said he impressed upon the Dargah management about the Supreme Court’s earnest desire for a progressive stand and succeeded in helping them reach a decision to allow women into the inner sanctum. “The Dargah management will devise the mode and method for allowing women into the inner sanctum,” he said. Asked whether it would be a separate entry for the women to reach the inner sanctum, Subramanium said it would be worked out by the competent persons in the management.
Taking into consideration Subramanium’s assurance, the bench continued the stay on the Bombay high court’s August 26 order permitting women to enter the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah, to which only men had access for the last four years. Though the court had on October 7 stayed the High CourtC order on an appeal filed on behalf of the Dargah management, it said the writing was on the wall that the Dargah management took a secular and progressive stand on the issue.

On behalf of the bench, the CJI had said: “If you are not allowing anyone into the sanctum sanctum, it is all right. But you cannot be allowing men and banning women. That is the problem.” Women were banned from entering the inner sanctum in 2012 by a decision of the Dargah Trust. The High Court had ruled that such a ban on women’s entry into inner sanctum was in contravention of Articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (nondiscrimination) and 25 (right to practice religion) of the Constitution of India. It directed that the status quo ante be restored and women allowed entry on par with men.
The state and the trust running the Dargah should take steps for safety of women, it had ordered. The trust defended the ban saying entry of women close to the tomb of a male saint was a grievous sin in Islam. The Maharashtra government had batted for women’s entry.

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