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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

No legal sanctity to fatwa if it affects rights, Indian apex court rules

By Malladi Rama Rao
New Delhi, 08 July (

The Indian Supreme Court has ruled fatwas, as decrees issued by Muslim clerics and Islamic religious institutions are known, have no legal sanctity if they tread on the rights of an individual.

The judgment came on a nine-year-old petition that questioned the legality of the Sharia courts like Darul Qaza and Darul-iftaa saying they are operating a parallel judicial system for the Muslim citizens.

Many of these fatwas have become controversial as they affected personal liberties though many fatwas have been received well for the high values the decrees sought to uphold.

Holding the view that fatwas per se are not illegal, two –member bench of Justice C K Prasad and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh said fatwas donot have a place in independent India unlike during the medieval times.

No religion Islam including doesn’t punish innocents, the bench observed saying that faith cannot be used as “de-humanizing force.''

A fatwa may be issued in the interest of the community but fatwas against the individuals are illegal and no one can be pressurized or coarsed to abide by a fatwa, the judges ruled.

The All India Personal Law Board told the apex court 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.

If a fatwa was sought to be implemented against the wish of a person, such a person could approach the court of law for relief, the Board informed the judges.

Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali has welcomed the Supreme Court's judgment on fatwas.

While Shariat is most certainly supreme in Islam, what is really happening is that what has not been justified in the Noble Quran and Hadidth is being propagated and justified in the name of Shariat, he said in a statement in Chennai citing the fatwas on triple talaq and child marriages.

''This has to stop because the truth is that neither triple talaq in one time nor child marriage is allowed in Islam. How then can this be brought under Shariat,'' he asked.

The Prince expressed shock to learn that a fatwa had been issued declaring a marriage as void after a woman was raped by none other than her father-in-law.
''How can this be called the Shariat'' he asked and said the Supreme Court's judgment is, therefore, valid.

Agreeing with the apex court ruling, Maulana Anisur Rehman, member of Imarat Shariah, Patna, said the judgment is not going to hinder the functioning of Sharia courts.
"For arbitration, when two parties or people consensually approach the Sharia court, it is lawful. The Supreme Court is not wrong, but I need to go through the entire verdict properly," he said.

A Muslim cleric Khalid Rasheed Farangi asserted that under the Constitution, Muslims have the right to work and act according to Muslim personal law.

"Indian Constitution has given us the right to act and work according to our Muslim personal law”, he said while remarking that the verdict needs to be studied carefully.

- Asian Tribune -

No legal sanctity to fatwa if it affects rights, Indian apex court rules
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