The ruling of the Supreme Court (“Fatwas not legal, says SC,” July 8) should end the controversies generated after pronouncements by certain Sharia courts. There are some who erroneously believed that the fatwas being passed by the so-called ulemas are binding on them as religious orders. In reality, a Muslim is obliged to accept only the diktats enshrined in the sacred text of the Koran; he is not mandated to accept any fatwas. He is at liberty to seek the help of a scholar if clarifications are required in the interpretation of the verses in the Koran, though. Moulvis may issue fatwas, but no one is under any obligation to accept them. Yet, the ulema can act as an arbiter in civil disputes among Muslims and settle matters. Only when they fail to arrive at an acceptable solution can the matter be taken to court. Apart from reaching a quick settlement, this will help reduce the workload of courts.
V.M. Mohammed Koya,
The judgment is a welcome step toward the gradual rationalisation and acclimatisation of our custom- driven and extra-legal judicial system (which often works in contradiction to our established and widely regarded constitutional values) to the contemporary realities of a modern democratic society — in which there is no place for any kind of gender-based discrimination and dehumanising arbitrariness. The state can come to the rescue of an individual if he or she is being victimised in terms of a violation of fundamental rights in the name of Sharia laws. The judgment, no doubt, enforces the special legal sanctity of the Constitution. In the same vein, the Supreme Court must reflect on the functioning of other “extra-legal” entities such as khap panchayats in order to strengthen the foundation of the “rule of law”. The objective must be to build on the direction shown by the Supreme Court and have an inspiring edifice in the form of a Uniform Civil Code.
It is well known that many quasi-judicial bodies (most of which lack legal sanctity) exist all over the country, especially in the villages. These bodies have gained prominence and are patronised by many people due to inherent defects in the current legal system. Complex procedures, a delay in the disposal of cases, the need for extensive travelling, illiteracy and poverty are what make the common man switch over to these locally available judicial bodies, where instant justice is assured. The functioning of these traditional judicial systems has never come to light as long as their judgments were fair and contributed to the welfare of society.
But of late, some bodies like khap panchayats, Sharia courts or muftis have pronounced decrees that violate fundamental rights. Against such a backdrop, the Supreme Court’s ruling and observations come as a blow against those who seek to exploit the innocent. This is also a wake-up call to reform the judicial system.
Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,
This is an outstanding ruling. Some Muslims who are against this ruling are not aware of the fact that these fatwas have been violating the fundamental rights of Muslims. In the name of reducing the courts’ burden through the Dar-ul-Qaza, self-proclaimed Qaazis were only attempting to run a parallel judicial system.
The diktats issued by these courts are invariably one-sided. These fatwas violate not only the Indian law but also Sharia laws as Islam does not punish those who are innocent. The judgment also portrays a backward picture of Muslims.