The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition seeking permission for Muslim women to enter mosques to offer prayers.The petitioner has asked the apex court to declare the prohibition on entry of women inside mosques in the country as illegal and unconstitutional.
The petition was filed on the grounds that (a)there is nothing in the Quran and the Hadith that requires gender segregation (b)the act of prohibition of females from entering Mosque is void and unconstitutional and (c)such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights.
The apex court asked the petitioner whether a mosque or temple or church is a state.The court said that the provision for right to equality under Article 14 of Indian Constitution can only be invoked only against the state and not against non-state actors.The petitioner’s lawyer replied that the religious places get grants from the state and fundamental rights could be invoked against them.
However,the apex court was not satisfied with the reply.It said that it has admitted the petition only because of the Sabarimala verdict delivered by the court last year.Earlier,the Supreme Court had ruled that women, irrespective of age,can enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.Previously,girls and women in the 10-50 age group were prohibited from entering the Sabarimala temple.
At present,women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations but they are barred from entering mosques under the predominant Sunni faction.Even in mosques where women are allowed,there are separate entrances and enclosures for men and women.