'Fatwas', Shariat courts have no legal status: SC

07 July 2014

In a socially important judgment, the Supreme Court today ruled that 'fatwas' or sanctions issued by Islamic Shariat courts are not enforceable as these courts have no legal status, and such decrees are illegal if they impinge on the rights of an individual.

The apex court objected to the Shariat courts ordering punishments against innocent people, saying no religion permits this.

The bench also said that neither the 'Darul Qaza' nor any other mufti can pass any judgment that infringes on the fundamental rights of an individual.

The verdict by the top court came on a petition challenging the legality of the Shariat Courts filed by Delhi-based lawyer Vishwa Lochan Madan in 2005.

In the petition, he stated that institutions like Darul Qaza and Darul-iftaa are operating like parallel courts which take decisions on the fundamental rights of the Muslim citizens.

He also reportedly said that religious clerics like qazis and muftis appointed by them cannot take a call on the liberty of the Muslims by issuing fatwas and curtailing their fundamental rights.

The petitioner further argued that the Darul Qaza and Darul-iftaa operate in Muslim dominated districts where people cannot oppose the rulings.

Citing an example, the petitioner stated that a Muslim girl had to desert her husband because a fatwa directed her to live with her father-in-law who had allegedly raped her.

The apex court had reserved judgment in the case at a hearing in February this year.

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