Female genital mutilation petition pending before Supreme Court
A petition seeking a ban on FGM — also called female circumcision, where a part or whole of the external genitalia is removed — is pending before the SC.
The Supreme Court on Thursday recommended that the matter of female genital mutilation (FGM) practised in the Dawoodi Bohra community be referred to a seven-judge bench and heard alongside other matters pertaining to women’s right to pray, stating that it was a “seminal issue” regarding “the powers of constitutional courts to tread on question as to whether a particular practice is essential to religion or is an integral of the religion”.
A five-judge bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi made this observation in the 3:2 majority judgment delivered over the review petitions filed against the apex court’s 2018 Sabarimala verdict.
“For one, the reference to a larger bench is predicated on this being a religious issue, which FGM is clearly not; it is a cultural issue. It is an issue of rights, gender based violence and an act of crime. However we welcome the reference to a larger bench and hope that now the issue will be heard by a 7 judge bench on the issue of constitutional morality,” said Masooma Ranalvi, who has spearheaded a campaign against the practise, also referred to as khatna.
A petition seeking a ban on FGM — also called female circumcision, where a part or whole of the external genitalia is removed — is pending before the SC. Two Public Interest Litigations have sought a law against female circumcision on the grounds it violated the rights of Bohra Muslim girls. A few individual women, including Ranalvi, have also filed intervention applications seeking to become a party in the case.
On August 28, 2018, the then CJI Dipak Mishra referred this matter to a five-judge bench.
However, a bench has not yet been constituted to hear the matter in the apex court.