‘Fatwa has no place in India’

Supreme CourtIn a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that fatwa issued by shariat courts has no legal sanction. The Supreme Court has ruled that the fatwa has “no place in independent India” and it “cannot be  used to punish innocent” .

“In any event, the decision or the fatwa issued by whatever body, being not emanating from any judicial system recognized by law, it is not binding on anyone including the person who had asked for it. Further, such an adjudication or fatwa does not have force of law and, therefore, cannot be enforced by any process using coercive method,” a bench of Justices Chadramauli K Prasad and P C Ghose said in a judgment on July 8.

The court did not declare the institutions delivering fatwas and the practice of issuing fatwas illegal as it was noted that nobody may have an objection to the issuance of fatwas on religious issues.  The court observed that certain clarifications were required as it “gets strength from the religion and it causes serious psychological impact on the person intending not to abide by that”, and has “potential of causing immense devastation”.

The verdict has revived debate in India on the nature of the Muslim Personal Law and the necessity of having a uniform civil code in the country.

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