Fatwa only an expert opinion, hence, has no legal sanction

Supreme Court: Holding that the Fatwas issued by the Shariat Courts, established in the names of Dar-ul-Qaza and Nizam-e-Qaza, with the intent of providing justice specifically to the Muslims who fail to get justice in the prevalent justice delivery system owing to the expensive and protracted litigation, have no legal status and hence, cannot be enforced by any process using coercive method, a bench comprising of C.K. Prasad and P.C. Ghose, JJ. said that a Fatwa is an opinion, only an expert is expected to give and is not binding on the Courts, the State or the individuals. Stating that the Shariat Court is an informal justice delivery system with the objective of bringing about amicable settlement between Muslim individuals, the existence of Shariat Courts and the practice of issuing Fatwas is not illegal although it has no legal and Constitutional scheme.

Advocate V.L. Madan, appearing in person, brought before the Court the shocking incident of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh where a Fatwa dissolved the marriage of a Muslim woman upon being raped by her father-in-law stating that the woman with whom father has copulated legally or had sexual intercourse illegally, in both ways, the son can’t keep physical relationship with her. Two more Fatwas were brought into the notice of the Court where in one, a young Muslim woman was asked to divorce her husband and to accept her rapist father-in-law as her husband and in another one, it was said that no one will file an FIR against a rapist father-in-law. Taking note of the fact that in none of the cases, the concerned person approached the Shariat Courts, the Court held that Fatwas touching upon the rights of an individual at the instance of rank strangers may cause irreparable damage and therefore, would be absolutely uncalled for as no religion, including Islam, can be allowed to be merciless to the victim and faith cannot be used as dehumanising force. Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union Of India, W.P. (Civil) No. 386 of 2005, decided on 7.7.2014

To read the full judgment, refer to the SCC OnLine

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