Supreme Court to take call on women's entry into mosques

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a petition from a Muslim couple for allowing women to enter mosques and offer prayers, seeing a common gender issue in the plea and the curbs on women devotees at Sabarimala temple that it had struck down last year.

“We are only hearing you, and may hear you in the future, because of Sabarimala judgment,” said a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde while issuing notices to the Centre and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Wakf board.

On September 28 last, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for entry of women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, saying a ban on their entry amounted to gender discrimination.

In the current petition, the Pune-based couple has sought the top court’s direction to declare as “illegal” and “unconstitutional” the practice of prohibiting the entry of Muslim women into mosques to offer prayers. The couple has referred to the Sabarimala ruling as a precedent.

The couple referred to the Sabarimala ruling, which has angered conservative Hindus, as a precedent to support their call.

The petitioners, Yas-meen Peerzade and her husband Zuber said women were allowed to enter mosques during the time of the Prophet Mohammad.

Women are not allo-wed inside most mosq-ues in India and a few have separate entran-ces for women to go into segregated areas.

Justice Bobde and Justice S. Abdul Naz-eer asked the petitioners’ counsel about the practice abroad.

“Who denied you entry? You tried to enter and were denied by virtue of an order or a law? Which other mosques in the world allow women?” asked Justice Bobde. When he asked if women are allowed in Mecca, Jus-tice Nazeer observed, “I don’t think there is a common congregation.”  The advocate submitted that in Canada women are allowed in mosques.

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