A Supreme Court advocate, who has challenged the validity of Shariat Courts in the country, has accused the Centre of "borrowing" the submissions of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) with a view to "please the Muslim clerics".
"Appeasement policy of the Union of India to please the Muslim clerics is writ large in the counter-affidavit filed by the Union of India. The Union of India, represented by the political parties in power, have borrowed everything from the counter-affidavit of All India Muslim Personal Board, and have not cared to apply their own mind at all," petitioner Vishwa Lochan Madan said in his rejoinder to the Centre's affidavit.
He alleged that "not only the ideas have been borrowed/stolen" from the AIMPLB's counter-affidavit "but also the exact vocabulary employed and mistakes committed appearing in the counter-affidavit of Respondent No 9 (AIMPLB)."
One such example pointed out by the petitioner is paragraph 10.6 of the AIMPLB'a affidavit which has been copied by the Centre in paragraph 13 of its affidavit which said, "In the course of time, as many as 31 lower darul-qaza are set up under the authority of Imarat-i-Sharia..."
The figure of 31 lower darul-qaza was wrongly mentioned by the AIMPLB which got copied by the Centre while the actual figure of such darul-qaza was 53, a list of which was submitted by the Board along with their addresses to the court, Madan pointed out in his rejoinder.
The apex court will take up the matter for hearing on Friday.
In its counter affidavit filed in October 2006, the Centre had defended the right of the Muslim community to have Shariat Courts saying it was part of their fundamental right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution.
"The functioning of darul-qaza would be protected under the fundamental rights enshrined in Article 25 and 26(b) of the Constitution," the Centre had said in its response to the PIL seeking ban on Shariat Courts.
Article 25 guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion while under Article 26(b) every religious denomination enjoys freedom to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
The petition filed by Madan last year sought direction to the Centre and other authorities to ban Shariat Courts for running a "parallel judicial system" in the country.
But the Centre said, "Freedom guaranteed by Article 26 to every religious denomination or every section thereof to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes and to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion would include the freedom to establish darul-qaza/nizam-ul-qaza to settle disputes between two persons professing Islam, according to Sharia."
The Government emphasised that "it is not a parallel judicial system" as the Kazis or qarul-qaza/nizam-e-qaza did not prevent Muslims to report matters to the judicial machinery set up under the law of the land.
Madan also charged the Centre with trying to give a communal colour to his petition. It was merely a petition in public interest and could only be taken as a controversy between Muslim clerics versus secular India, he submitted.
The petitioner said that he moved SC because no political party was willing to espouse the cause of a secular democratic India in order to placate the Muslim vote bank.
He cited one instance of the then Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur of BJP inaugurating a darul-qaza in Sehore district of the state in November 2005 while his petition was pending before the court.