New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench on Tuesday has orally accepted a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking permission for Muslim women to offer their prayers inside mosques. “The only reason we may hear you is because of our judgement in Sabarimala temple,” a Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer remarked orally. The court has issued notice to the government and various bodies, including the National Commission for Women.

The petition is filed by a Muslim couple, who supported their argument by pointing out that there is no mention of such a prohibition in any holy scripture, like Quran or Hadith.

The petition called the practice of keeping women out of mosques illegal and unconstitutional as it violates fundamental rights under the Constitution. The couple’s counsel Ashutosh Dubey said, "... such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual, but also violative of their fundamental rights...”

The counsel added, “There were no records stating that the Quran and Prophet Muhammad opposed women entering mosques and offering prayers, and in fact men and women have equal constitutional rights to worship, according to their beliefs.” Presently, women are permitted in mosques to offer prayers under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations, but such practice is barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction. 

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Even where women are allowed to worship in a mosque, there are separate entrances and enclosures for them. The petition said that there should be no discrimination and women should be allowed to worship in all mosques, without any restrictions.

It added that the most sacred mosques in the world, accepts both men and women, where they together circumambulate the Kaaba. To further support the argument, the PIL gave the reference of Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, where recently women have been allowed to offer prayers. The petition said, "The hon'ble court in the case of Sabraimala held that 'religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women as it is against human dignity'. Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries."