‘Hearing due to Sabarimala verdict’: SC hears plea to let women in mosques

The Supreme Court has admitted a PIL filed by a Muslim couple seeking to let women offer prayers in mosques and sent a notice to the Centre on the issue.

While hearing the petition, the court said that it was hearing the plea only because of the Sabarimala verdict which had been quoted in the PIL.

On Monday, a Muslim couple from Maharashtra had moved the Supreme Court seeking the right for women to pray at mosques.

While hearing the PIL, the Supreme Court said that the bench was not satisfied with the response given by the petitioner’s counsel to a query on whether an individual can assert his or her right to equality against another individual. “We are only hearing you because of the Sabarimala judgement. But the provision for Right to Equality under the Constitution can only be invoked against the state and not against an individual who is inside a mosque,” the court said.

The judges asked whether a mosque or temple or church is a state.

“Can you invoke Article 14 and claim equality of treatment from another citizen. Can it be invoked against non-state actors? We can understand that state has to ensure equality. State cannot deny it,” the Court observed.

The petition filed by the Muslim couple referred to the top court’s September judgement on Sabarimala and said that Muslim women have the right to worship in mosques.

The petition was filed by Yasmin Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade, who said that there are no records stating that women were barred from entering mosques and offering prayers by the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad.

The petition, filed under Article 32, quoted from the Sabarimala judgment saying, “religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights or worship to women and a prohibition on women to offer prayers is against human dignity.”

“Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it’s a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries,” the petition reads further.

Giving their own example, the petitioners said, they had requested the Jama Masjid in Pune to let the wife enter the mosque. In response, the couple was told that women were not permitted to offer prayers in the mosque in Pune and other areas. The Imam, however, said he would write to higher authorities to consider the petitioners’ request and requisite directions.

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 11:52 IST

Updated: April 16, 2019 — 12:09 pm