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The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Central government and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in the petition seeking the entry of Muslim women into mosques.
“We are hearing you because of Sabarimala judgment”, a Bench of Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer remarked before issuing notice.
Advocate Ashutosh Dubey appeared for the petitioners.
When the case came up, the Court quizzed the petitioner’s counsel on different aspects.
“Have you tried to enter, has anybody prevented you”, Bobde J. asked
“Yes”, said Dubey.
“Are there other mosques where women are permitted to enter”, asked Bobde J.
Dubey cited the example of Mecca.
Bobde J. then asked whether Right to Equality under Article 14 can be claimed against non-State actors.
“Can a fundamental right to equality be asserted against another Human Being/ individual? Will Article 14 apply to individual and can you claim equality of treatment from another human being? You don’t want somebody to enter your house, can that person call for police help and enter your house?”, the Court asked.
The Court further queried whether a mosque, temple or Church is a State or not?
“Is mosque, temple or church a State?”
Dubey said that the bodies managing the affairs of mosques takes benefits from State and are thus State actors.
The Court then issued notice.
Justice Bobde, while issuing notice, stated that the only reason the Court will hear this matter is owing to the judgment in the Sabarimala case.
The petition has been filed by a Muslim couple seeking a declaration that the prohibition on entry of Muslim women into mosques in India is illegal and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.
The petitioners have further submitted that there are 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 Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations, while they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction, the petition notes.
Even in the mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for worship for men and women.
Regarding the right to religion under Article 25, the petition states that it is not absolute, but subject to public order, morality and health.
The petitioners have argued that the Legislature has failed to ensure the basic dignity and equality of women in general and Muslim women in particular when it concerns matters related to their entry into mosques and wearing burqa.
The petitioners have also placed reliance on the Sabarimala judgment.
“..this Hon’ble Court in the case of Sabraimala held that “Religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity. Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.”
Read the petition and order below.