Haji Ali Dargah to allow women into sanctum sanctorum

Mumbai: Following a lot of pressure from women’s groups, Haji Ali Dargah Trust told the Supreme Court on Monday that women would be allowed to enter sanctum sanctorum of Sufi saint Haji Ali’s shrine in Mumbai.

The Trust has informed the apex court that it will allow women on par with men. This decision has come as a pleasant surprise to activists campaigning under ‘Rights to Pray’ movement.

A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justices TY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted four weeks’ time for the Trust to make adequate arrangements for granting access to women.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Trust, filed an affidavit saying that 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.

In earlier hearings, the Supreme Court had expressed the hope that the Trust, which had challenged the High Court judgment, “will take a stand which is progressive”.

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 Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque and dargah (tomb), was constructed in 1431 in memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. It is located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the southern part of Mumbai.

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