Bombay High Court Upholds Women’s Right to Equal Access to Haji Ali Dargah

Dharna outside Haji Ali Dargah to affirm women's right to equal access to sacred space

"Admittedly, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust is a public charitable trust. It is open to people all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed or sex, etc. Once a public character is attached to a place of worship, all the rigors of Articles 14, 15 and 25 would come into play and the respondent No. 2 Trust cannot justify its decision solely based on a misreading of Article 26. The respondent No. 2 Trust has no right to discriminate entry of women into a public place of worship under the guise of `managing the affairs of religion' under Article 26 and as such, the State will have to ensure protection of rights of all its citizens guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution, including Articles 14 and 15, to protect against discrimination based on gender. Infact, the right to manage the Trust cannot override the right to practice religion itself, as Article 26 cannot be seen to abridge or abrogate the right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution." Excerpts from the Judgement of the Bombay High Court, August 26, 2016

The Bombay High Court has today ruled that women have the right to enter the core or inner sanctum of Mumbai's famous Haji Ali shrine, the Bombay High Court has ruled.  

However, the verdict has been put on hold or suspended for six weeks to allow the trustees of the dargah to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

The Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) had petitioned the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the trustees of Haji Ali dargah to restrict women's access to the shrine. BMMA's demand was supported by the 'Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye' forum comprising of secular-democratic minded individuals and organisations.

Full text of the Bombay High Court order may be accessed here.




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