The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the plea seeking a direction to permit the Muslim women to enter and offer prayers inside Mosque.
As per the affidavit, entry of women for offering prayer in the Mosque is permitted and she may avail such facilities as available for prayers therein. The affidavit states that the only difference between men and women is that the women have the option to offer their prayers at the home. However, if she wishes to offer prayers at the Mosque, she has the right to do so.
AIMPLB is one of the Respondents in the plea, represented by Advocate MR Shamshad. It clarified,
"Considering the said religious texts, doctrine and religious belief of the followers of Islam, it is submitted that entry of women in the Mosque for offering prayer/Namaz, inside the Mosque, is permitted. Thus, a Muslim woman is free to enter Masjid for prayers. It is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in Masjid. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board does want to comment on any contrary religious opinion to this effect. Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for woman to offer Friday Namaz in congregation though it is so on Muslim men. The Muslim woman is differently placed because as per doctrines of Islam she is entitled to the same religious reward (Sawab) for praying as per her option either in Masjid or at home."
Thus, it was stated that entry of woman into Mosque for Namaz is permitted and that any fatwa contrary to this position may be ignored.
However, the AIMPLB has contended that since the plea relates to the doctrine of Islamic religious principles, it would not be appropriate for the Court to enter into the religious practices based upon beliefs of the religion by invoking Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of Constitution.
"the rights claimed herein do not merely concern the management of a religious place neither do they only concern regulating the activities connected with religious practice. In essence, this Hon'ble Court has been invited to interpret the religious beliefs and religious practices. It is not appropriate for this Hon'ble Court to enter into that area. Hence, the Respondent is of its firm view that the averments/ pleadings in relation to Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India cannot be considered and looked into for the prayers as claimed in the present petition," the affidavit states.
The affidavit has been filed in a plea filed by a Pune-based couple, Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade, who had approached the Supreme Court last year, seeking entry of Muslim women in mosques across the country and claiming that such restriction was "unconstitutional" and violative of fundamental rights to life, equality and gender justice.
In October 2019, a bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notices on the petition. While issuing the notice, the Supreme Court had said that it would hear the PIL only because of its judgment in the Sabarimala temple case.
In November 2019, a nine judges Constitution bench agreed to take up the larger issue of whether courts can intervene in matters of "essential religious practices" and to hear a batch of pleas in that regard.
The present plea thus, along with cases relating to entry of women in Sabrimala temple, female genital mutation in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community, etc., are likely to be taken by the Constitution bench in first week of February.