Islamic courts operating under Muslim law are like fast-track courts and help the judicial system, the body which oversees these courts has told the Bombay high court.
Dar-ul-Qaza, as the courts are called, help settle family and civil issues under the community’s laws. In July, the Supreme Court had ruled that while these courts couldn’t be termed illegal, their rulings could not be legally binding.
“Undoubtedly, settlement of disputes under Muslim law in Dar-ul-Qaza instead of civil court has its own advantages,” stated an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court on Friday by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). “While the procedure and processes followed in both systems are more or less the same, speedier and much less expensive justice is available in the Dar-ul-Qaza, as against the civil courts, which take years, sometimes a litigant’s lifetime, to decide cases and can be approached only at a cost which by the common man’s standard is exorbitant.”
The affidavit added that litigants generally have a strong religion based confidence in the impartiality and sense of justice of the Dar-ul-Qaza.
The AIMPLB’s 100-plus page reply was in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that such courts be dismantled.
AIMPLB further likened their system to other legal setups such as the consumer forum, Lok Adalat or Panchayati adalats, “which are outside the mainstream of jurisprudence”.
A 1999 amendment to the civil procedure code allows for dispute settlement through alternative routes.
“Hence, Dar-ul-Qaza cannot be termed as either in conflict with or parallel to the Indian judicial system,” said the affidavit filed by the secretary Abdul Sattar Yusuf Shaikh. “In fact they are aids to such a system and are like fast track courts but bereft of authority to enforce its orders.”
The AIMPLB has admitted that they constitute “an informal justice delivery system” with no power to issue summons or call witnesses.
The matter has been posted for hearing in two weeks’ time.