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Parsi trust relaxes entry ban on woman

New Delhi: On the Supreme Court’s prodding for a progressive stand, the Valsad Zorastrian Trust on Friday agreed to let a Parsi woman into the ‘tower of silence’ to perform the last rites of her relatives. She was earlier barred from doing so because she had married outside the community.

Appearing for the trust, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium and counsel Percy Ghandy informed the court that pursuant to its December 7 suggestion, the Valsad Parsi panchayat decided to consult its high priest who in deference to the SC’s wishes had agreed to permit Goolrokh M Gupta to perform all rituals involved in the last rites of her parents in the event of their passing away.

“The trust will, on compassionate grounds, permit Goolrokh to attend the funeral prayers of her parents to be performed inside the prayer hall of the ‘Bungli’ of the tower of silence complex at Valsad. She will also be entitled to attend the death ceremonies four days later inside the prayer hall of the tower of silence,” the trust said.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan said the concession for Goolrokh to enter the tower of silence would also be available to her sister Shiraz Contractor Patodia, who was her advocate on record in the SC and is also married to a non-Parsi. Interestingly, a third sister too is married outside the community.
All three will now be allowed into the tower of silence. With Goolrokh, her children and her sister getting entry into the tower of silence, this could possibly lead to similar benefits to other Parsi women married outside the community within the Valsad Zorastrian Trust.
Though Goolrokh’s success might benefit a small number of Parsi women owing allegiance to Valsad Zorastrian Trust, it is nonetheless a significant step forward in securing equal rights for women. Goolrokh’s sister and counsel Shiraz Contractor Patodia had pleaded that the trust had violated the right to equality as it had not restrained Parsi men married outside the community from performing last rites of their relatives in the tower of silence.
The SC said since the troubling issue was amicably settled for the time being, it would hear other issues raised by the petitioner on January 17.
Source : timesofindia



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