10, Feb 2016
Feb 10 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
The state government on Tuesday batted for allowing women inside the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah, saying they cannot be banned unless the practice of prohibiting women is integral to Islam.
Advocate general Shreehari Aney told a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere that the Haji Ali Dargah Trust has to prove that the ban on women is “an essential practice, without which the religion cann ot stand or it would collapse“.Aney submitted that unless the court comes to the conclusion that the ban is integral to the practice of Islam, it would run a grave risk of negating a right fundamentally available to women.
The court heard a public interest litigation by activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Mus lim Mahila Andolan, urging it to lift the restrictions imposed between March and June 2012 by the Trust.
Arguing that the Trust has a right to administer and not regulate, Aney said even if it says it has a fundamental right to manage its religious affairs, then it has to be weighed against Articles 14 (right to equality) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) of the Constitution. Yes, one has the right to manage one’s religio us affairs, but it has to be an integral religious practice. A peripheral religious practice does not amount to religion,“ said Aney .He also said petitioners have a right to practise religion and if there is difficulty in implementing Constitutional rights, the court must interfere.