Supreme Court rejects banning of Sharia courts, says it is up to people to decide

supreme-court_660_101512103426By Abdul Bari Masoud,MM News,

NEW DELHI: In a historic ruling the Highest Court of the Land (Supreme Court) on Monday has rejected a petition seeking to ban “Darulqadha” (Sharia courts) run by All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslims institutions. It will deter communal forces who try to browbeat the Indian Muslims on Muslim personal law issue by raking up common civil code.  However, the Court has stressed that they (Sharia courts) had no legal powers over Muslims and their decisions could not be enforced.  While welcoming the judgment, the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board has said that its stand on Sharia courts has been vindicated.

The petition filed by one Vishwa Lochan Madan, who is  a known  activist of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has sought the disbanding of Shariah courts but the Apex court has rejected his plea saying Sharia courts have no legal sanctity, however,  if people still want to approach these courts, it’s their will.  In India, as other religious communities enjoy their own personal laws in matters of family life and other personal issues such as marriage and divorce, Muslims also follow their own laws governing family life and other personal issues such as marriage and divorce, with Sharia courts used to rule on such matters and mediate in disagreements.

The Apex court observed that Islamic judges (Qadhis), who interpret religious law, could only rule when individuals submitted voluntarily to them and their decisions, or fatwas, were not legally binding.

Heading a two- judge Bench, Justice C.K. Prasad read out the judgment saying “Sharia courts are not sanctioned by law and there is no legality of fatwas in this country”.  The Bench further observed that “No religion is allowed to curb anyone’s fundamental rights,” while taking note of the case.

It is to be noted that the different personal laws followed by the country’s religious minorities are a sensitive political issue. The new BJP government wants to bring in a common civil code for all.

Vishwa Lochan Madan, who filed his petition in 2005  in the Supreme Court and cited a ‘false’ case to support his plea, in which a woman was told to leave her husband and children and live with her father-in-law who had raped, told a foreign news agency that his demand had been rejected by the apex court.

While talking to Muslim Mirror, Muslim Personal Law Board executive member Dr Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas said the Supreme Court ruling vindicated Muslim Board’s contention that Sharia courts were not a parallel judiciary. He said the Board never made claim that Sharia courts are parallel judicial system.  Communal forces and organizations always try to create misgivings about Sharia laws and Darulqadha and the PIL filed by Madan has also tried to mislead the Court, he added.

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