haji ali

Visitors are seen inside the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI – Women devotees will have access up to the sanctum sanctorum of Sufi saint Haji Ali in Mumbai, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust Oct. 24 informed the Supreme Court.

The trust told the apex court that it is going to create a separate way to facilitate women devotees' access to the Dargah.

As senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam appearing for the Haji Ali Dargah Trust sought two weeks' time to create the way, the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao, describing the development as positive, said: "You can have four weeks' time if you are going to strictly comply with the (Bombay) High Court order."

Subramaniam took the court through the map of the Dargah to tell it that the trust has decided to relocate the treasury boxes in which the offerings by the devotees are kept.

He also told the court that in the past, women were allowed access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah, but for some logistical problems, the restrictions were imposed. "The Trust in 2012 prohibited women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine."

The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order that directed the trust to allow women devotees full access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah.

The Bombay High Court had on Aug. 26 permitted the entry of women right up to the restricted grave area of the famous Saint.

However, the Bombay High Court, while ruling that women can go up to the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah, had put the operation of its verdict on hold, giving time to the Haji Ali Trust – managing the shrine affairs – to approach the Supreme Court.

The High Court verdict had come on a public interest litigation filed by Noorjehan Niaz, Zakia Soman and others.

This shrine of the Sufi Saint in Mumbai was built in 1431.

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