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Shariat Courts proposal rejected by Centre, likely to be politically tainted

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s proposal to open Shariat Courts in all districts of India has not gone well with the political leaders of the country and has drawn severe criticisms from different political and community leaders.

The AIMPLB is the highest decision making body on Muslim affairs in India which recently presented the proposal to open Darul Qaza (Shariat Courts) in all districts of the country to resolve issues of the Muslim community of India.

“At present, there are 40 such courts in Uttar Pradesh. We plan to open one such court in all districts of the country  The objective of Darul-Qaza is to resolve matters in light of Shariat laws instead of going to other courts,” Zafaryab Zilani, senior member AIMPLB, told PTI.

The apex body of Muslim affairs said that the proposal will be discussed at the meeting of AIMPLB, which will be held in New Delhi on July 15.

The proposal, however, has received condemnation from the political sphere with different leaders voicing their opinion against the proposal.

On Monday, Minister of State for Law and Justice, PP Chaudhary clarified the Centre’s stand on the controversy saying that it is opposed to the proposal which is untenable.

Previously, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi had disapproved of the idea of such courts across the country.

“You can discuss religious matters but court binds this nation. There is no place for Shariat Court, be it at district or village or city level. This is not the Islamic Republic of India,” Lekhi told ANI.

Janata Dal (United)’s national secretary General KC Tyagi had also rejected the importance of such courts.

The Shia Waqf Board went a step ahead and termed the proposal to establish such courts as sedition.

“There is a Constitution in India; judges are appointed on the basis of that. There is no place for Shariat courts in India. Who is Muslim Personal Law Board to set up parallel courts? This is sedition,” Waseem Rizvi, the Chief of Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board told ANI.

Firebrand BJP leader Subramaniam Swami held that such an attempt by the AIMPLB aims to create division and secession in the country.

The AIMPLB, however, has rubbished all such claims and said that there is no tint of unconstitutional exercise in the establishment of such bodies.

Media has caused confusion by dubbing Darul Qaza as a court. It’s not a court as it is headed by a Qazi.  Darul Qaza will perform the role of mediation and arbitration which is permissible under Indian Arbitration Act and its order will not be binding on litigants. If they are not satisfied then they could approach Civil courts,” said Jilani of AIMPLB.

It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court had in an earlier instance ruled that “Fatwas” issued by Muslim Shariat courts (Dar-ul-Qazas) do not have legal sanctity and cannot be enforced if they infringed on the fundamental rights of an individual.

It can be interpreted that as the Government has come down heavily on the proposal, it is likely that the issue will be politically tainted in upcoming days.