Haji Ali Dargah concedes in SC, says women will be granted access to sanctum sanctorum

Sufi saint Haji Ali's Dargah is located on the rocks off the Worli seashore in Mumbai.

Haji Ali Dargah concedes in SC, says women will be granted access to sanctum sanctorum

Mumbai: Women will be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sufi saint Haji Ali's shrine in Mumbai, the Dargah Trust told the Supreme Court on Monday.

The Haji Ali Dargah Trust informed the apex court that it will grant access to women on par with men.

The decision spells a huge victory for those campaigning under the banner of the Right to Pray movement.

The SC has granted four-week time to the Trust to make requisite infrastructural changes for granting access to women.

A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted time to the trust and disposed off its appeal against the Bombay High Court order asking it to give equal access to women also.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the trust, said an additional affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Dargah Trust, saying it is willing to allow women inside the shrine.

On October 17, the Supreme Court had extended the stay granted by the Bombay High Court to facilitate an appeal against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women near the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Haji Ali Dargah till October 24.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed hope that the Trust, which had challenged the high court judgement, "will take a stand which is progressive".

Subramanium had also assured the bench that he was on a "progressive mission" and said all holy books and scriptures promoted equality and nothing which is regressive in character should be suggested.

The bench had also remarked that "if you are not allowing both men and women to go beyond a point, there is no problem. But if you are allowing some to go beyond a point while others are not, it is a problem."

The counsel, appearing for a women's group which has challenged the practice of the Trust not to allow women near the sanctum sanctorum, had submitted that the position was different before 2011 than what it is today. 

The shrine, built in 1431, is located on the rocks off the Worli seashore. It houses the grave of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a Muslim saint revered by all communities.

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