After banning the barbaric instant Triple Talaq, the Supreme Court has allowed one more crucial landmark case in delivering justice to Muslim women in India. The Apex court on Friday sought the Central Government’s response by November 5 on a plea seeking entry of Muslim women into mosques across the country and claiming that such restriction was “unconstitutional” and violative of fundamental rights to life, equality, and gender justice.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi-headed bench took note of the fact that it had issued notices to many parties, which included Union Ministries of Women and Child Welfare, Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs, and the National Commission for Women, in April and three respondents (parties) have not been served with its notices.
Referring to the Constitutional provisions, the petitioners said there should not be any discrimination against any citizen of the country on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth.
The bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, ordered that the notices along with copies of the petition be served on the Maharashtra State Board of Wakf, Central Wakf Council and All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The bench then fixed the plea filed by Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade, a Pune-based couple, for further hearing on November 5. The central government, represented by lawyer Rajat Nair, on Friday accepted the notice.
A majority of the mosques ban the entry of women or placed a separate place, preventing women to enter common places like men, the petition pointed out. It said very few mosques allow free entry to women. The plea sought issuance of a direction to the government authorities and Muslim bodies to allow entry of Muslim women into mosques to offer namaz there. Most of the mosques don’t allow women to perform namaz in common areas. Some mosques have separate closed enclosures for women barring entry into the main areas. Some mosques have back door entry for women for going to the enclosures, said the petition showing a series of injustices to the Muslim women by the community.
“Permit Muslim women to enter through the main door of mosques and have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary),” it said, adding that “any fatwa”, restraining women from entering mosques, of Muslim bodies be set aside. The petition also said that the alleged customary tradition be held as “unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (gender justice) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution”.
Referring to the Constitutional provisions, the petitioners said there should not be any discrimination against any citizen of the country on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth. They added that a life of dignity and equality is the most sacrosanct fundamental right and a Muslim woman cannot be prohibited from entering a mosque. The petitioners had told the court that the mosques in India were enjoying the benefits and grant extended to them by the State and hence they can be directed to allow entry of women inside mosques.
While issuing the notice, the Supreme Court had earlier said that it would hear the PIL only because of its judgment in the Sabarimala temple case. Petitions from Muslim women from Kerala also pointed out that many mosques in Kerala ban the entry of women mosques.
The Triple Talaq ban
After the Triple Talaq ban, many Muslim women organizations have approached the Supreme Court to ban the most barbaric activity called Nikah Halala. This barbaric practice is still practiced in many Muslim areas. As per this notorious practice, if any divorced Muslim woman patches up with her husband, she must go for a temporary marriage with another person before going to her first husband. The temporary marriage known as Nikah Halala will be performed by accepting some fee from her family and she must spend one or two nights with the stranger or hired temporary husband approved by the local Muslim Mosque Councils. The petitions for banning Nikah Halala is now pending before the Apex court.
Supreme Court first intervened in providing justice to Muslim women in the mid-80s in the famous landmark case – Shah Bano case – by providing maintenance and equal rights.