The Supreme Court on Tuesday refrained from passing any order on the objectivity of fatwas, while reserving its verdict on a plea questioning the validity of Shariah courts and their religious decrees.
“These are political and religious issues. We can’t decide them. In this country, some people believe Gangajal can cure all ailments. It is a matter of belief,” a Bench said.
Holding that it was a matter of choice for people to accept a fatwa or not, the court said running of institutions like Darul Qaza and Darul Iftaa was a religious issue and the courts should interfere only when someone’s rights were violated by their decisions.
“We can protect people who are subjected to suffering due to this. When a pujari gives a date of Dushera, he cannot force someone to celebrate the festival on that day. If somebody forces the dictates on you, then we can protect you,” the Bench said after the petitioner pleaded that fatwas were unconstitutional. The petitioner, advocate Vishwa Lochan Madan, argued that a Muslim girl had to desert her husband because of a fatwa directing her to live with her father-in-law who allegedly raped her. “Don’t be over-dramatic. 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 court told the petitioner.
The petitioner also told the court that Darul Qaza and Darul Iftaa functioned in 52 to 60 districts where Muslims have a sizeable population. He further said Muslims couldn’t contest fatwas, and that these “parallel courts” were interfering with the life and liberty of citizens. “Which law gives clerics the power to issue fatwas and which statute gives pundits the power to make horoscopes? The court can only say that the state will protect the people if one is subjected to suffering due to a fatwa,” the Bench added.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, argued that if fatwas affected fundamental rights of a person, he or she could approach courts.
The Centre told the court that it wouldn’t interfere in Muslim personal law unless it affected the fundamental rights of citizens.