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Maharashtra bats for women’s entry in Haji Ali Dargah

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and other groups protesting at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, demanding entry in Haji Ali Dargah.— File Photo: Vivek Bendre

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and other groups protesting at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, demanding entry in Haji Ali Dargah.— File Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Equality must rule over tradition and customs, it tells Bombay HC

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday backed the entry of women in the Haji Ali Dargah, and told the Bombay High Court that equality must rule over tradition and customs. It said unless the Dargah Trust is able to prove that the ban is part of its religious practice with reference to Koran, women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum.

Appearing for the State, advocate general Shreehari Aney told a division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere that any claims to right to practise one’s religion must be weighed against the fundamental Right to Equality.

The court is hearing a PIL plea filed by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan that states women have always been allowed at the Dargah, but in June 2012, the trust restricted their entry into the sanctum sanctorum.

Mr. Aney said the only question to be considered was whether the ban was integral to Islam or just a peripheral religious practice.





The advocate for the Trust justified the ban and said even polling booths had separate queues for men and women to maintain “tranquillity”. He said the ban was integral to Islam and women could not be permitted to touch the tombs of male saints.

In the last hearing, the HC had asked the State government to give its opinion on the PIL plea challenging the decision of the Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the historic Dargah.

The court had also said it would wait for the Supreme Court to decide on allowing women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the 1,500-year-old Sabrimala temple in Kerala.



Dargah Trust justifies ban, says even polling booths have separate queues



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