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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/8/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Muslims cannot be legally subject to a parallel religious authority, justices rule

Individuals within India may abide by Sharia court rulings if they wish, but cannot be legally forced to do so, Supreme Court Judge C. K. Prasad said. It's seen as a landmark decision across the massive Asian nation: Islamic courts have no legal authority in India. According to that nation's Supreme Court, Muslims cannot be legally subject to a parallel religious authority.

India has long allowed different religious communities leeway in handling their own personal issues and disputes.

India has long allowed different religious communities leeway in handling their own personal issues and disputes.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/8/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Sharia law, India, Muslim courts, petition


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "No religion is allowed to curb anyone's fundamental rights," Judge Prasad told the court.

The matter was in response to a petition filed in 2005 by a lawyer who said the Sharia courts should be disbanded for running a parallel judicial system in a country with 150 million Muslims among its 1.2 billion population.

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Vishwa Lochan Madan, the petitioner, argued that Islamic courts wielded considerable influence in Muslim-dominated areas, and people often felt powerless to oppose their rulings.

The petition had been cited as an example of a case in which a Muslim woman was raped by her father-in-law. A Sharia court ordered her marriage annulled and demanded that she live with her father-in-law. The case outraged India after the court ordered the mother of five children to leave her husband.

The Indian Supreme Court rejected Madan's request to disband the Sharia courts, saying there was no point if their "fatwas" - or edicts - had no legal sanction. People were still free, however, to voluntarily consult an Islamic court for arbitration in personal matters.

Muslim leaders in India have denounced the ruling. They are now encouraging India's Muslims to continue to consult the Sharia courts on issues like marriage, divorce or inheritance.

"This is a malicious propaganda which is going on against religious beliefs," Kamal Farooqi, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said. "We are for Sharia courts, and we are spreading it all over the country."

India has long allowed different religious communities leeway in handling their own personal issues and disputes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new government has promised during its election campaign to bring a common legal code for all Indians.

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