The Maharashtra government on Tuesday supported women’s entry in the famous Haji Ali dargah, amid the raging debate over ban on females’ entry into certain religious places across the country.
The government’s counsel argued in the Bombay High Court that the Haji Ali Trust cannot ban the entry of women in the dargah.
Fundamental rights of a citizen are above customs and traditions, the government submitted before the court.
The court had earlier this month asked the state government to give its opinion on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the decision of Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the historic dargah.
A bench headed by Justice VM Kanade had asked Advocate General Srihari Aney to submit arguments on behalf of the state on February 9 (today) stating whether women should be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.
The Supreme Court is already seized of a matter about entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala.
The Bombay High Court had indicated last month that it would wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala temple in Kerala before deciding on the plea in the case of Haji Ali Dargah.
The PIL in the Bombay High Court has challenged the decision of Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.
The petition had sought interim relief by way of allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum at the dargah until the matter is finally decided by the court.
The trustees of Haji Ali Dargah had told the court earlier that entry of women in close proximity to the grave of a male Muslim saint is considered a grievous sin in Islam.
The petitioners, however, claimed that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and the norm at the dargah contravenes the Hadiths which say that women are not prohibited from visiting tombs.
The restriction emanates from “a very conservative and extremist Salafi ideology” and in future “there may be an order banning the entry of women in the dargah complex and banning the non-Muslims wholly,” the petition argued.
The petitioners’ lawyer had contended that at other dargahs or shrines women are not banned. Women can enter the sanctum sanctorum at the historic Makhdoom Shah Dargah in suburban Mahim, the lawyer noted.