Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice on a Writ Petition seeking to declare the practices of prohibition of entry of Muslim Women in Mosque in India as illegal, unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.
The notices have been issued to the Central Government, Waqf Board and All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The petition filed by a Muslim couple places heavy reliance on the SC verdict in Sabarimala case, which had overturned the ban on entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years to the temple.
While considering the matter for admission, Justice S A Bobde, who headed the bench, asked whether fundamental right to equality could be enforced against non-state actors.
"The only reason we may hear you is because of our judgment in Sabarimala case", remarked Justice Bobde.
The petitioners alleged that they had written a letter on regarding permission for women to offer their prayer / Namaj in Mosque in the Mohmdiya Jama Masjid, Bopodi, Pune. But the mosque administration had responded to the petitioner's request stating that no practice of entry of women in Mosque is permitted in Pune and other areas yet they have written a letter to Daud Kajha and Daud Ullum Devvand and would respond to petitioner's request.
In response to the said letter, the Imam of Jama Masjid, Bopodi, Pune had written that since no permission can be granted and he is not sure about entry of women in mosque, as such he had written to higher authorities for consideration of petitioner's request and requisite directions.
Aggrieved by the above response, the petitioners have approached the Supreme Court.
According to the petitioners, the act of prohibition of females from entering mosque is void and unconstitutional as such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
The petition states that the Quran does not differentiate between man and woman. They have also alleged 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. It is submitted that even in the mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for worship for men and women. There should not be any gender discrimination and allow Muslim women to pray in all mosques, cutting across denominations. It is submitted that there is no such gender discrimination to offer worship in Mecca, the holy city. The faithful, both men and women, together circle the Kaaba".
The Petitioners submitted that women are never allowed inside Sunni mosques to pray and they, too, have the right. Women were allowed to enter mosques even during the time of the Prophet.
"Muslim women are being 'discriminated' as they are not allowed to enter and pray in the main prayer hall of mosques in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. This is an encroachment into the realm of personal liberty and social security".
The petitioners also submitted that the most sacred mosque in the world for Muslims embraces both men and women.
"Also, there is complete unanimity in the Muslim community on the Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca being the most sacred mosque to all Muslims in the world; every able bodied Muslim is required to visit it at least once in his lifetime. The Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca has always invited Muslim women from every part of the world to pray in it. It does not discriminate between men and women simply because any such discrimination would have violated the Quran"
The petitioners have quoted the following observations from the Constitution Bench Judgment in the Sabarimala Case to support the claim.
"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".
Prayer for Uniform Civil Code
It is also submitted by the petitioners that the Legislature has failed to ensure the dignity and equality of women in general and Muslim women in particular.
"Despite the observations of this Hon'ble Court for the past few decades, Uniform Civil Code remains an elusive Constitutional goal that the Courts have fairly refrained from enforcing through directions and the Legislature has dispassionately ignored except by way of paying some lip service".