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India’s Supreme Court Rejects Plea to Allow Muslim Women Entry Into Mosques

The Chief Justice said, “Let a Muslim woman come and challenge it. Then we will consider.”

by Shamani Joshi
10 July 2019, 2:36am

Photo via Pixabay

On Monday, July 8, the Supreme Court of India rejected a plea made by the Kerala unit of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha organisation asking for “permission for Muslim women to enter and pray in mosques”. The petition said that women were discriminated against by not allowing them to enter and pray in mosques in the main prayer hall. While Muslim women are not outrightly banned from entering the mosque, it's mostly discouraged. Also, not all mosques have a separate space for women to pray.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose dismissed the petition, which was an appeal made against a previously passed Kerala High Court order rejecting it. This was done as the Court questioned whether this organisation was even aggrieved and the CJI even bluntly said, "Let a Muslim woman come and challenge it. Then we will consider." In fact, in April 2019, the Supreme Court received a similar plea filed by a Muslim couple from Maharashtra whose lawyer had said "There is no mention of any gender segregation in Quran and Hadith." The couple filed the case seeking the right for women to pray at mosques after being told that the wife would not be able to enter the Jama Masjid in Pune. The case is sub judice.

However, the new case in question had been previously denied by the High Court as they felt it was just an attention-seeking tactic and said, “We suspect therefore that this PIL is motivated by a desire of the petitioner for cheap publicity. We are of the view that the proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India cannot be permitted to be misused for such purposes.”

This petition also raised fingers towards the purdah system, asked for a burkha ban and was filed in light of the Supreme Court judgement allowing women to enter the Sabarimala temple, saying that the need of the hour was for Muslim women to be able to pray with men at their holy place.

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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.