The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided to stress on legal validity of Shariat Courts (Darul Qaza) operating in various parts of the country in the Supreme Court. A public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the legality of these courts was filed in the apex court last year.
The board, which is going to file counter affidavit in the court, on Sunday made it clear that these Shariat courts had been functioning within the limits of the Constitution. The assistant general secretary AIMPLB Rahim Qureshi told HT on Sunday that there was no clash between judiciary and Shariat Courts. “They are basically alternate mechanism for justice in the country”, Quershi said. He said the board initially wanted to file counter affidavit after response from the Union Government. “But now we have decided to go ahead without waiting for centre’s reply to the court”, He said.
The petition, filed by advocate Vishwa Lochan Madan, had pleaded in the court to adjudicate on several questions of law, including whether Article 25 (guaranteeing religious freedom) included the right to administer justice based on faith. It also wanted the court to rule on whether religious courts could be allowed to function in a secular democracy like India. The petitioner urged the court to declare all such religion-based courts functioning outside the country's judicial system as illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional as also their fatwas as "unforceable".
While the AIMPLB has decided to deal with Shariat court issue in the affidavit, Darul-Uloom Deoband, which is also party in the case would be taking up “fatwa” issue, as “Darul Ifta” (Fatwa centre) is located in the seminary. The centre had in March last assured the court to file reply at the earliest. The board has taken the view that since Muslim Personal Law was protected under Shariat Application Act 1939, these courts, which are dealing within the ambit of personal law, had legal validity. The AIMPLB has planned to present a detail history of Darul Qaza and their application in India before the apex court. Qureshi said these courts were aimed at helping the existing judicial system in the country. Shariat courts never took up any civil case which was already pending before the judiciary. They also did not take up criminal cases. Darul Uloom Deoband had of late landed in controversy because of its questionable fatwas on various issue. The seminary’s affidavit is likely clear dust on whole controversy.