PIL seeks women's entry into Nizamuddin shrine; HC seeks Centre, Delhi govt's reply

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre, the AAP government and police on a PIL seeking entry of women into the sanctum sanctorium of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah. Apart from the Centre, the Delhi government and police, a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao also issued notice to the trust managing the 'dargah' (shrine) and sought their stand on the plea by April 11 next year.

The court was hearing a plea by three women law students, who have claimed that the dargah does not permit entry of women into the shrine. The petition, filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, has claimed that there is a notice put up outside the 'dargah' - a shrine built over the grave of a religious figure - clearly stating in English and Hindi that women are not allowed inside.

The law students, in their petition, have contended that they made several representations to authorities, including the Delhi Police, but no response was received and therefore, they moved the high court. "Nizamuddin Dargah by its very nature is a public place and prohibition of entry of anyone in a public place on the basis of gender is contrary to the framework of the Constitution of India," it said. The plea has sought directions to the Centre, the Delhi government, police and the trust managing the shrine, to frame guidelines for ensuring entry of women into the dargah and declare the bar on entry of women as 'unconstitutional'.

The petitioners, who are law students from Pune, have contended that when the Supreme Court has allowed women of all ages into the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, women in the heart of the national Capital were being discriminated against. According to the petition, the law students came to know of the bar on women's entry at the dargah when they visited the shrine on November 27 to offer prayers. It also said that various other shrines like the Ajmer Sharif Dargah and the Haji Ali Dargah do not prohibit entry of women.

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