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AIMPLB wants Govt to protect Shariat Courts

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 22 (UNI) The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) today offered to help the Government in challenging what it called was a ''potentially incendiary'' writ petition filed in the Supreme Court against Shariat courts and the fatwa system.

Reiterating that neither was the Dar-ul-Qaza a parallel judicial system nor the fatwa binding, the AIMPLB asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to instruct the government's law officers to take its help in presenting an ''objective scholastic presentation'' before the apex court.

The government should ''treat this matter as highly sensitive and considering its potential incendiary nature make a thorough scholastic representation before the Supreme Court'', the AIMPLB said in a memorandum to Dr Singh.

In his writ filed in the court last year, advocate Vishwa Lochan Madan had sought a ban on Dar-ul-Qaza and issue of fatwas, saying they were illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional.

The AIMPLB maintains that the Dar-ul-Qaza (meaning the place of justice) has been in existence for the past several centuries as an alternative dispute resolution system. By and large it plays the role of a negotiator/mediator/arbitrator in marital disputes, the ulemas' body says.

''The Dar-ul-Qaza has no trappings of courts of law as it has no power to summon witnesses or to enforce any of its decisions.

Therefore it cannot be said to be a parallel court of law. The functioning of the Dar-ul-Qaza is within the ambit of the Constitution and has never undermined the sovereignty of India''.

On the question of fatwas, the memoranmdum pointed out that a fatwa was merely an ''opinion'' which Muslim scholars express when called upon to do so on any religio-socio-cultural issue. ''It is often based on exposition of a rule of Shariat and is given in the context of the factual matrix presented before the scholar known as Mufti''.

Such opinions ''are not binding on any person including the person who has sought such opinion'', the AIMPLB said, adding that prohibition of expression of opinion by Islamic scholars on issues pertaining to religious, social or cultural issues of the Muslims would directly impact on the fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

UNI VN RL BD2052

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