Kerala High Court has dismissed a petition seeking that Muslim women should be allowed to enter mosques for offering prayers. In the backdrop of contentious Supreme Court order allowing women of any age to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, Akhila Bharat Hindu Mahasabha’s state president Swamy Dethathreya Sai Swaroop Nath had filed this petition before the High Court.
The petitioner had submitted that Muslim women are not allowed into the main prayer hall of mosques and it is a discriminatory practice against women. The petitioner had pointed out that Muslim women are allowed in Mecca but they are not allowed in Indian mosques. This is discrimination and it goes against article 21 and article 14 of the Constitution, said the plea.
Hearing the plea, a bench of chief justice Rishikesh Roy and justice AKJ Nambiar said that the petitioners failed to provide evidence that women are not allowed into mosques. The bench also notes that the petitioner “does not purport to represent the Muslim women in the State, whose rights are allegedly infringed through a denial of entry into a Masjid”. The court says that there is no established practice where Muslim women are not allowed inside mosques, therefore there is no evidence that the rights of Muslim women are violated.
The court also says that that petitioner is not such a person who should be concerned with the rituals and practices of the Islamic religion. This was an interesting comment from that court given the fact that none of the petitioners in the Sabarimala was from Kerala and some of them had no knowledge about the customs of the temple. In fact, some of the petitioners wanted to withdraw their pleas after learning that it was a custom limited to one specific temple and women devotees themselves want to follow this custom. The supreme court also had ignored the beliefs of women devotees of the temple.
The Kerala high court also noted that news about the PIL had already surfaced in media even before the matter was taken up by the court. Therefore, the court thinks the PIL is filed to obtain “cheap publicity”.
The judgement can be accessed here [PDF].