It is a sin to allow women in close proximity of the male Muslim saint’s tomb at Haji Ali dargah, the trust told the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in 2014. The PIL states women have always been allowed at the dargah, but in June 2012, the trust restricted entry of women to the sanctorum inside the dargah.
During the previous hearing, the court had suggested the trust permit women to enter the inner sanctorum and come up with an amicable solution. Advocate Shoaib Memon, appearing for the trust, submitted a copy of the resolution passed on August 6, saying a unanimous decision has been taken by the trustees. The resolution read, “The trust is governed by the Constitution, particularly article 26, which confers upon the trust the fundamental right to manage its affairs in matters of religion and interference is uncalled for by a third agency.”
It also said the existing arrangement provides for a secure place for women to offer prayers. “This has been decided in the interest of women and they are close to the inner sanctorum of the tomb as far as possible. Considering the rush of men, this arrangement has been welcomed by women pilgrims,” it said.
The trustees were unanimous that “at no point were women allowed to come in close proximity of the tomb and the current arrangement of a separate entrance for women is proximate to the tomb.”
Advocate Raju Moray representing the BMMA said whether dargah worship forms an essential part of Islam is what the trust has to answer. The court said it had hoped a solution would be found. The next hearing will be held on November 17.