Religion cannot curb fundamental rights: Shariat courts invalid- Supreme Court

July 8, 2014 by  
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Shariat CourtNew Delhi, July 07, 2014: No religion can curb a person’s fundamental rights, India’s topmost court ruled on Monday.

“No religion is allowed to curb anyone’s fundamental rights,” the Supreme Court said while disposing a petition that challenged the parallel religious courts run by Muslim institutions such as the Darul Qaza and Darul-Iftaa.

According to the court, Islamic Shariat courts have no sanction and that no one is bound to accept orders or fatwa they issue from time to time. The Shariat courts can issue a fatwa only if approached willingly, and that too, will not be legally binding, the court further ruled.

A Delhi-based lawyer, Vishwa Lochan Madan, had argued that Shariat courts are illegal and decided on religious and social freedoms of Muslim citizens. He also said that fatwas issued by qazis or religious arbiters appointed by Muslim organizations should not control fundamental rights of Muslims.

The court had reserved its verdict in February, saying, “These are political-religious issues. We can’t decide them. In this country some people believe Gangajal can cure all ailments. It is a matter of belief.”

Madan told the court that the Darul Qaza and Darul-Iftaa operate in nearly 60 districts in India with a sizeable Muslim population. He argued that a Muslim girl was forced to leave her husband because a fatwa directed her to live with her father-in-law who had allegedly raped her.

“Don’t be over dramatic,” the court told the petitioner then, adding, “We will come to her rescue. You are assuming all fatwas are irrational. Some fatwas may be wise and may be for general good also. People in this country are wise enough. If two Muslims agree for mediation, who can stay it? It is a blend of arbitration and mediation.”

The Muslim Personal Law Board argued that if fatwas affect fundamental rights, one can approach the court. The previous UPA government had told the court that it would not interfere with the Muslim personal law unless it affects the fundamental rights of individuals.

The court said religion or faith cannot be used to victimize innocent people.

The apex said fatwas can cause irreparable damage to the rights of an individual.

Although religious opinion as fatwa has a laudable object, it cannot be enforced the moment it breaches the fundamental rights of a person.

A bench headed by Justice C K Prasad said that no religion, including Islam, allows punishing innocent persons and ordered that no ‘Darul Qaza’ should give verdict which affects rights of a person who is not before it.

All India Personal Law Board had earlier submitted that fatwa was not binding on people and it was just an opinion of a ‘mufti’ (cleric) and he has no power and authority to implement it.

The counsel, appearing for the board, had said if a fatwa was sought to be implemented against the wish of the person concerned, then he could approach the court of law against it.

– matters india

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