Hailing the Haji Ali Dargah Trust’s consent to allow women inside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine, petitioner Noorjehan Safia Niaz on Tuesday said the development was a victory of women’s right to equality at sacred places.
“It’s a good verdict and we were expecting the Supreme Court to uphold the judgment of the High Court and it is a victory of women’s rights and movement in our country. It is also conveying the fact that the Constitutional rights and values of equality and justice and the Islamic values of equality and justice because if you are a Muslim and if you believe in Islam, then you have to believe in the values of equality and justice, specifically gender equality,” Niaz told ANI.
Niaz further said the myth that women have no right to interpret religion has been broken by the Supreme Court.
“Muslim women are equal in their rights.they are equal with the men and they are equal before God. It is this affirmation of values of equality, justice and human rights that has been reinforced by the Supreme Court,” she added.
The Haji Ali Dargah Trust imposed the ban in 2012 citing religious traditions. The dargah authorities defended the ban, saying the entry of women in close proximity to the tomb of a male saint would be seen as a grievous sin in Islam.
The trust had claimed that separate arrangements have been made for women to walk up to a certain point from where they can offer prayers.
The ban is contrary to Articles 14, 15, 19 and 25 of the Constitution of India.
Prior to 2011, the dargah did not discriminate against women and allowed free entry of people across religions. On March 2011, the dargah’s board of trustees imposed a ban on women’s entry, calling it a “grievous sin”.
The Supreme Court had earlier on October 7 stayed the entry of women in Haji Ali Dargah till October 17 after the dargah management said that it would come out with a progressive stand in two weeks.
Earlier on August 26, the Bombay High Court lifted the ban imposed on women from entering the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.
Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had file a petition in the Bombay High Court against the ban, calling it unconstitutional.