SC to hear plea on entry of women into mosques
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a PIL filed by a Pune-based Muslim seeking a direction to allow unrestricted entry of women in mosques to offer prayers.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer said, "we are going to hear it in view of Sabarimala temple judgement."
The court sought a response from the Centre, the National Commission for Women, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Central Wakf Council and others on a joint petition filed by Yasmeen and Zuber Ahmad Peerzade.
During the brief hearing, the top court quizzed the counsel if the right to equality can be invoked against private citizens.
The counsel said the mosques were managed by public funds.
"Can you invoke Article 14 against another citizen? Is a mosque or a temple or a church a state? Will it be an offence if somebody is not allowed entry. If somebody doesn't want your entry, can you take help of police to enter," the bench asked.
"We are hearing you and would hear because of the judgement of Sabarimala," the bench added.
Petitioners contended the act of prohibition of females from entering mosque was void and unconstitutional as such practices were 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 couple contended 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, they said.
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, they contended.
Some of 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, they pleaded.
The petitioners sought a direction permitting Islamic women to enter through the main door and have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary) in the mosques.