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.
The decision came two months after the Bombay HC struck down a ban on women entering the sanctum sanctorum.
Shoaib Memon, advocate for the trust, said there were now wider social issues to take care of. “The decision is absolutely correct. The SC agreed with the trust that women won’t be allowed to touch the grave as it is the grave of a man. The entire struggle was for women to come one step more than they were previously allowed,” he said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed hope the Trust, which had challenged the high court judgement, “will take a stand which is progressive”.
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, the petitioner who got the Haji Ali cauldron boiling in 2012 after she was denied entrance into the inner sanctum, called it a victory for equality and justice. “We are waiting for four weeks to pass so we can also pay our respects to the shrine.”
“This would have a profound impact on Muslim women, making them empowered in a true sense,” said Feroz Mithiborwala, a secular activist and member of the Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye Forum that was set up to support the petitioners.”The decision will also help in future decisions of Triple Talaaq and others. A positive atmosphere has been created.”
Trupti Desai, a gender equality activist, also called the verdict a big victory for women. “We requested the trust not to appeal to the Apex Court after the Bombay HC verdict, but they had to eventually bow to the SC. We will rally from Pune to the shrine and honour the trust.”
Desai said she would bring out an “andolan”, should any mandir or trust disallow women to enter the sanctum. She said, “I have urged every mandir and trust to immediately obey the rules of the SC.