ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fatwas and Muslim Women

The Supreme Court's ruling that clarifi es that though it is not unconstitutional to issue fatwas, they are merely opinions of the issuer and not binding on anyone must be welcomed. The Court has, however, taken a balanced view in not declaring the functioning of any religious institution as illegal or against public interest. The courts functioning under the constitutional framework have done a lot for Muslim women's rights and entitlements and within the Islamic framework. Muslim women must utilise all spaces wherein they get better rights.

On 7 July the Supreme Court ruled in the Vishwa Lochan Madan vs Union of India case that

Fatwa ... has no place in independent India under our Constitutional scheme. It has no legal sanction and cannot be enforced by any legal process either by the Dar-ul-Qaza issuing that or the person concerned or for that matter anybody...It (fatwa) is bereft of any legal pedigree and has no sanction in laws of the land.

The apex court’s judgment was clarificatory. However, it did not grant the prayers of the petitioner Vishwa Lochan Madan: to declare that the movement/ activities being pursued by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and other similar organisations for the establishment of a Muslim judicial system and setting up of dar-ul-qazas and shariat courts in India were absolutely illegal and unconstitutional; that all the dar-ul-qazas and the shariat courts be disbanded and the union of India ensure that the same did not function to adjudicate any matrimonial disputes under the Muslim Personal Law; that the AIMPLB and the dar-ul-ulooms be restrained from training qazis and naib-qazis or muftis for rendering any judicial services of any kind.

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