A group of women on Tuesday entered the Haji Ali dargah, after a long series of legal battles and protests from different camps against the ban on women into the dargah’s inner sanctum. On October 24, the dargah’s administration had told the Supreme Court it would take a month to implement a Bombay High Court order that lifted the ban on women’s entry inside the dargah’s inner sanctum. “Women will be treated at par with men,” the board had told the apex court.

According to the dargah’s new rules, nobody will be allowed to touch the tomb, but equal access will be given to men and women, IANS reported. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan co-founder Noorjehan S Niaz had told IANS, “It will be routine now, we have not informed the police or the dargah trust. We shall pay our respects and come out.”

The board had decided to follow the high court’s directive a week after the Supreme Court extended the stay on women’s entry into the shrine. The trust had sought more time to make a final decision on the matter.

The dargah’s managing board had earlier agreed to come out with a more “progressive stand” on the ban. While pronouncing its verdict in August, the Bombay High Court had said that preventing women from entering the shrine was unconstitutional. However, the court had stayed the order for six weeks after the trust sought time to challenge the ruling in the apex court.

The high court had said the ban violated Articles 14, 15, 19, and 25 of the Indian Constitution, which deal with the right to equality, the right against gender-based discrimination, freedom of movement and freedom of religion. Earlier this year, the Bombay High Court had ruled that there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering places of worship is concerned.

The Haji Ali matter was taken up by the high court after activists and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan filed a plea seeking entry rights. The shrine’s trust had banned women from entering the mausoleum in 2011, arguing that it was a “grievous sin” in Islam for women to be in close proximity to the grave of a Muslim saint.

In April, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade leader Trupti Desai had visited the dargah, but was stopped from entering the inner sanctum. After her visit, Desai, who had earlier campaigned for women’s right to enter the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra, had said the dargah administration should relax their restriction.