Observer Desk

Posted on 14.12.17 by

Parsi Woman Excommunication Case: Day 2 Arguments

On 14.12.2017, the 5 Judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. KhanwilkarD.Y. ChandrachudA.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, resumed hearing arguments in the Parsi Woman Excommunication Case (Goolrokh Gupta v Burjor Pardiwala). This case will determine the validity of a ban on a Parsi woman from entering the Tower of Silence by virtue of her marriage to a Non-Parsi.

On 7.12.2017, the Court had asked Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, and Mr. Percy Ghandy, counsel appearing for the respondents (the Parsi Trust) to obtain instructions on allowing Ms. Gupta to enter the Tower of Silence to perform the funeral rights of her parent/s in the event of their death. The Counsels deliberated with the Trustees and the High Priests of the Trust. The Trust has filed a memorandum agreeing to the following points:

  1. The Trust will permit Ms. Gupta to attend the funeral prayers (Paidust ceremony) of her parents performed inside the Prayer Hall of the Bungli (Bungalow) of the Towers of Silence Complex complex at Valsad.
  2. Ms. Gupta will also be entitled to attend the 4-days of post-death ceremonies performed for her parents, inside the Prayer Hall of the Bungli (Bungalow) of the Towers of Silence Complex Complex at Valsad.
  3. Ms. Gupta can arrange for Priests to perform the prayers at the Towers of Silence Complex. If she is unable to arrange for Priests, the Trust will arrange for Priests to perform the said ceremonies. Ms. Gupta’s children may attend the funeral ceremonies of their grand-parents by sitting in the Pavilion opposite the Bungli (Bungalow), along with members of the community, both Zoroastrian and otherwise.

Ms Indira Jaising, appearing for Ms. Goolrokh Gupta argued that the issues of the right to equality under Article 14, and the right to practice religion under Article 25 are yet to be addressed by the Court. Mr. Gopal Subramanium agreed that the issues must be decided in accordance with the law.

The Court recorded its appreciation for Mr. Gopal Subramanium and Mr. Percy Ghandy, in persuading the Trust to come forth with an agreement on the issue in such a short time. The matter has been posted for hearing on 17.1.2018.


(This post relies on the contributions of Mr. Vijayant Singh)


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