The state government on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court (HC) that women should be barred from entering the inner sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah only if it is so enshrined in the Quran.The ban on women’s entry cannot be justified if it is on the basis of an expert’s interpretation of the Quran, argued advocate general Shrihari Aney.Clarifying the government’s stand, he said: “The laws of tradition and customs have to give way to the fundamental rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which allows equal rights to every citizen. Thus the ban on women’s entry is not correct.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On whether the court can interfere in the customs and traditions of a religion, Aney said: “If the religion (Islam) is going to fall if women are allowed entry, then the ban should prevail over fundamental rights.”Aney clarified whether a trust managing the affairs of the dargah can regulate the entry of a certain sex. “If it wants to administer the property, it cannot be by way of banning a particular sex,” he said.”The Taj Mahal is a place where a king and queen are laid to rest. But both men and women from different religions go there and offer prayers. Same is the case with the Ajmer Sharif dargah. Women not being allowed to pray cries foul of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution,” he said.The dargah trust defended its stand saying that it is referred in Quran that allowing women close proximity to the dargah of a male saint is a grievous sin.Advocate Shoaib Memon said: “Women are not allowed inside mosques in Saudi Arabia. They are given a separate place to pray. We (trust) have not barred women. It is simply regulated for their safety. The trust not only administers the dargah but also manages the affairs of religion.”Memon said that banning women’s entry is an integral part of religion and the court should not interfere in the practice. The trust claimed that separate lines for women are made at polling stations and at the Shirdi temple and the same is done here.Defending its stand that touching a male saint by a menstruating woman was a sin, the trust said: “Even today in many Hindu households, a menstruating woman is not allowed into the kitchen.”Memon equated the separate line for women at Haji Ali Dargah with that of separate railway compartment for women. Memon urged the court to visit the dargah and inspect the crowd on weekends to better understand the decision of the trust.The court has reserved its judgment on the plea filed by two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz. The PIL states that gender justice is inherent in Quran and the decision contravenes the Hadiths, which proves that there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.


Barring women from Haji Ali sanctorum against fundamental rights: State to Bombay High Court