This Article is From Feb 25, 2014

Fatwas are political-religious views, can't interfere, says Supreme Court

Fatwas are political-religious views, can't interfere, says Supreme Court
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that it cannot interfere with fatwas or religious decrees issued by Muslim clerics.

"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," the top court said while reserving verdict on a petition against Shariat courts and their fatwas.

The Public Interest Litigation or PIL has been filed by a Delhi-based advocate Vishwa Lochan Madan, challenging parallel courts run by institutions like the Darul Qaza and Darul-Iftaa.

Mr Madan has argued 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 petitioner also told the court that the Darul Qaza and Darul-Iftaa function in 52 to 60 districts which have a sizeable Muslim population. He said Muslims cannot contest these decrees or fatwas, and alleged that these interfere with the life and liberty of citizens.

"Don't be over dramatic," the court told the petitioner, adding, "We will come to her rescue. You are assuming all fatwas are irrational. Some fatwa 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.

"We could make a national policy that issues of personal matters in family courts should be decided by people of the same religion. But it might divide the country again," the top court observed.

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is being very cautious ahead of the general elections, due by May, and that it will not interfere in Muslim personal law unless it affects the fundamental rights of citizens.