Citizens' Issues
Bombay HC permits women inside Haji Ali Dargah
In a historic verdict demolishing another bastion of gender discrimination in the country, the Bombay High Court on Friday permitted the entry of women right up to the restricted grave area of the famous Haji Ali Dargah here.
 
The 56-page ruling by a division bench comprising Justice V.M. Kanade and Mohite Revati-Dere came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and its office-bearer activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman in November 2014.
 
The PIL challenged a 2012 decision by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust (HADT), prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine, built in 1431, on grounds that "women wearing blouses with wide necks bend on the 'mazaar', thus showing their breasts", which was against Islam.
 
The trust contended that the ban was "for the safety and security of women". It also said that earlier, it was "not aware of the provisions of Shariat and therefore had taken steps to rectify the same".
 
The shrine, located on the rocks off the Worli seashore, comprises the grave of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a Muslim saint revered by all communities.
 
NGO BMMA's lawyer Raju Z. Moray argued that there is nothing in the Holy Quran which prohibits the entry of women into mosques/dargahs and Islam believes in gender equality.
 
The HADT's lawyer, Shoaib Memon, contended that Islam discourages free mixing between men and women and the intention of the restriction was to keep interaction between men-women at a modest level, besides preventing sexual harassment of women and their belongings getting stolen.
 
While permitting women to enter the restricted areas along with men, the court asked the Maharashtra government to ensure their safety and security.
 
Terming the ban a violation of the fundamental rights of a person enshrined in the Constitution, the judges stayed their verdict for six weeks to allow an appeal in the Supreme Court.
 
"We hold that the ban of the Trust prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah contravenes Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution...women be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum at par with men," the judges said.
 
They directed the state government and the trust to take effective steps to ensure the safety and security of the women at the Dargah.
 
HADT Chairman Abdul Sattar Merchant said they will appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court and that the AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen) will also oppose the verdict.
 
The trust, in June 2012, had barred the entry of women on the ground that Islam did not allow women to touch the tombs of male saints and it was a "sin" for them to enter the area where the grave is located.
 
An umbrella outfit, 'Haji Ali For All' comprising several social and women's groups, including NGO Bhumata Brigade, had attempted to storm the shrine on April 28, but were stopped by the police on grounds of security.
 
Later, on May 12, Bhumata Brigade President Trupti Desai, accompanied by her supporters and a posse of police, walked through the one-km narrow causeway on the Arabian Sea -- accessible only during low tide -- to reach the Dargah with scores of other devotees.
 
She followed the prevalent customs and prayed from outside the restricted area -- barely four feet away from the grave -- and departed a few minutes later.
 
At that time, the shrine trustees reiterated that permitting women upto the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari would be "anti-Islam" and claimed immunity as it was a "minority trust".
 
Desai is credited with successful agitations culminating in women's entry to the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar and later the Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik, both in April this year, besides a partially successful agitation at Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur.
 
"I welcome the historic verdict of the court today. Our agitation has been successful and the courts have recognized the equality and rights of women. We shall soon go to pray at Haji Ali Dargah," Desai said while reacting to the high court ruling.
 
Several prominent men and women Muslim intellectuals and activists lauded the High Court ruling.
 
The Dargah was constructed in 1431 in memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari of Bukhara in modern Uzbekistan.
 
At one time, he renounced all his worldly possessions, travelled all around the world, made a pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in the then Bombay in the 15th century.
 
According to local legends, once he saw a poor woman crying over oil spilt from her vessel, afraid that her husband would thrash her.
 
He took the woman to the spot where the oil had spilt and jabbed his finger in the earth and oil gushed out. The happy woman filled up her vessel and went home.
 
Later, the saint had tormenting dreams of how he had injured the earth by his action. He fell ill and asked his followers to throw his coffin into the Arabian Sea.
 
He died during a pilgrimage to Mecca and the casket carrying his body miraculously was swept back to the Worli shore and got stuck in the rocks there.
 
His Dargah was constructed at the same spot; and on Thursdays-Fridays, it is visited by large number of pilgrims of all religions from India and abroad for the saint's blessings.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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SC refuses to modify order on Parsvnath Buildwell refund to flat buyers
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to modify its order directing builder Parsvnath Buildwell to return money paid by 70 flat buyers in its Parsvnath Exotica project in Ghaziabad, seeking a schedule for the refund even as the firm pleaded such a course would create "serious and irreversible conditions" for it.
 
Unmoved by the builder's plea, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C. Nagappan made some corrections in their August 12 order, recording that instead of 17 flat owners, there are 70 flat owners seeking a refund and the time schedule for this would be given to the court by senior counsel V. Giri.
 
Appearing for Parsvnath, senior counsel Dushyant Dave told the court that there were 854 flats and money has been received from 818 flat buyers and if refund was allowed, then there would be a mad rush.
 
"It would amount to mad rush, everyone will seek money that we will not be able to pay," he said.
 
Telling the court that "no one has paid the full money, only a part of it. By giving to 70 people it would create serious and irreversible condition", Dave urged the court to give the builder a year's time by when the possession of flats would be given to all the buyers.
 
He told the bench that the builder had approached the Ghaziabad Development Authority for sanction of revised plan in view of new stipulation permitting more FRA, but "now we would do according to the earlier sanctioned plan".
 
"We are trying to find a way out," he stressed.
 
Appearing for the aggrieved 70 flat buyers, senior counsel M.L. Lahoty told the court that the booking for the project located in Mohan Nagar area of Ghaziabad district was done in 2007 and the project was to be completed in 2011. 
 
He noted that the building plans sanctioned by the GDA were cancelled by the authority on August 26, 2015 and as such there was no sanctioned building plan.
 
Not saying anything on the submissions by Dave, the court made two corrections in its August 12 order and directed the further hearing of the matter on September 15.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Amid corruption probe, Lotte Group Vice Chairman found dead
The Vice Chairman of Lotte Group, South Korea's fifth-largest business group, was on Friday found dead in an apparent suicide ahead of prosecutors' summons over allegations of corruption involving the group.
 
Police found the body of 69-year-old Lee In-won on a trail in Yangpyeong, 55 km east of Seoul, after receiving a report from a local resident about a man hanging from a tree. After finding Lee's identification in his clothes, the police also found a four-page suicide note in his car found near the site of the incident, Yonhap News Agency reported.
 
The note addresses his family, executives and members of staff, expressing loyalty to chairman Shin Dong-bin and denies the charges of tax evasion and creation of slush funds. Lee was to appear before prosecutors on Friday morning, Lotte officials said.
 
Lee joined the group in 1973 and became the first to become vice chairman in 2011, outside the family. He was also longtime CEO of Lotte Shopping, one of the biggest businesses of the group.
 
Lotte, started as a chewing gum company in Japan in 1948, now operates businesses in chemicals, food, shopping and hotels, including South Korea's largest discount and department store chains. Its brands are well recognised all across Southeast Asia. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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