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SC seeks Centre's reply on plea seeking entry of Muslim women into mosques to offer prayers

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Tuesday agreed to hear a plea seeking permission for Muslim women to enter mosques to offer prayers and asked the Centre to respond to it.

A bench of justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the petitioners' that it would hear the matter only in view of the apex court's judgement in the case.

"The only reason we may hear you is because of our judgement in the Sabarimala case. Otherwise you are not giving us satisfactory answers," the bench told the appearing for petitioners and Zuber

On September 28 last year, a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the in Kerala, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination.

Besides the Centre, the apex court also issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Minority Affairs, National Commission for Women, Maharashtra State Board of Waqfs, and the All Muslim Personal Law Board, seeking their replies on the plea filed by the Pune-based couple.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the apex court asked the petitioners' as to whether the right to equality could be invoked against private individuals.

"Can you invoke Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution and claim equal treatment from another human being?" the bench said, adding, "Is a a state? Is a temple a state? Is a church a state?"

The bench also sought to know from the petitioners how the state was involved in this.

"Persons in a are individuals. Where is the state involved in this?" the bench said, adding that the fundamental right to equality can be invoked against the state and not against individuals.

To this, the petitioners' said mosques in the country were enjoying the benefits and grants extended to them by the state.

At the outset, when the petitioners' counsel said the issue was about the right of Muslim women to enter mosques to offer prayers, the bench had asked, "Who has denied this right? Have you tried to enter (a mosque) and were denied entry?"


The bench then asked the counsel about a matter before the regarding the entry of women in the Haji Ali Dargah. The counsel replied that women were allowed to enter the Haji Ali Dargah in

He said in a similar matter related to the entry of women in mosques, the High Court had dismissed a plea, saying, "let a Muslim person come forward" on this issue.

At this juncture, Justice Bobde asked, "Which are the other mosques where women can enter?"

The counsel said women were allowed to enter the holy and also mosques in Canada, but in Saudi Arabia, there was a 'fatwa' in this regard.

The counsel said the petitioners had written to police for help but no assistance was given to them.

"This is not an offence. Why should the police help somebody in this? If you do not want a person to enter your house, can that person get police help to enter your house?" the bench observed.

In their plea, the petitioners have sought a direction to declare the practices of prohibition of entry of Muslim women in mosques in as illegal and unconstitutional for being violative of constitutional provisions, including 14 (equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty).

The plea also said that there was nothing in the holy Quran or the Hadith that required "gender segregation" and there were no records stating that the holy "Quran and Prophet Muhammad had opposed women entering mosques and offering prayers".

"Like men, women also have the constitutional rights to offer worship according to their belief. At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the and the Mujahid denominations, while they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction," the plea said.

It said that even in mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for worship for men and women.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 16 2019. 18:05 IST
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