Files case stating Mohamedan law does not discriminate anyone on the basis of sex

A 56-year-old Muslim woman Hajima (a title conferred on one who had performed Haj pilgrimage) S. Amroz Tahira of Batlagundu in Dindigul district has filed a case in the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai alleging that a Superintendent of Tamil Nadu Wakf Board had prevented women from voting in an election to be held for constituting a committee to manage Jumma Big Mosque in her town.

When her writ petition came up for hearing on Friday, Justice S. Tamilvanan ordered notice to the Secretary, Backward Classes and Most Backward Classes and Minorities Department; Tamil Nadu Wakf Board and others returnable by November 16. He wanted them to clarify the contents of a notification issued on September 21 calling upon male members alone to add or delete their names from the voters list.

Filing an affidavit, through her counsel G. R. Swaminathan, the petitioner said that she was the managing trustee of Haji Abdul Karim Trust and hereditary trustee of Katherammal Asan Rowther Trust as well as Terra Abdul Rahim Trust. All of them were duly registered trusts. She was a permanent resident of Batlagundu and hailed from a respectable family in the town.

The Jamath managing the Jumma Big Mosque comprised of three sects Rowther Jamath (consisting Lebbai or Tamil speaking Muslims), Dhakni Jamath (Urdu speaking Muslims) and Parimala Sunnath Jamath. As per a practice in vogue for many years, the managing committee of the mosque, notified as a Wakf as early as in 1955, was constituted by selecting two representatives from each sect.

Only recently, it was decided to select the members of the managing committee through an election. A notification in this regard was issued by the Chief Executive Officer of Tamil Nadu Wakf Board in Chennai on September 12. The notification had already been challenged by way of two writ petitions, including one filed by her husband Haji S. Sheik Dawood, and they were pending in the High Court.

In the meantime, the Wakf Superintendent (south zone) based at Madurai issued an election notice on September 21 stating that Batlangundu’s male Muslim residents who had completed 18 years of age alone would be entitled to make representations either for removal or addition of their names in the voters list and hence the present writ petition.

“The authorities are trying to conduct the election without conferring the right to vote on Muslim women. Universal adult suffrage is the elementary principle governing any democracy. No institution within a democratic setup can remain an exception to this… Similarly, there is nothing in the Shariath or in the Mohamedan law which forbids women from participating in the election process,” she said in her affidavit.

More In: Madurai