Ruling on Sharia courts bolsters rights of India's Muslim women, campaigners say

Tue Jul 8, 2014 7:05pm IST

A Muslim bride speaks to her relative as they wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A Muslim bride speaks to her relative as they wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Related Topics

NEW DELHI, July 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A ruling by Supreme Court stating that fatwas issued by Sharia courts are illegal will help protect the rights of Muslim women who are often forced to abide by inhumane diktats, women's rights activists said.

The court on Monday rejected a petition which sought to ban Sharia courts, but said that their rulings over Muslims had no legality and could not be enforced against an individual's will.

There are almost 140 million Muslims in India, many of whom follow their own laws relating to issues such as marriage and divorce and use Sharia courts to help settle disputes.

But women's rights groups say while Sharia courts are important for Muslims as they can provide speedy justice, their rulings are often unfair and violate the rights of women.

"We whole-heartedly welcome today’s judgment … against fatwas that trample upon rights of individuals and stating that diktats which are in violation of rights of any individual are to be considered illegal and invalid," said Zakia Soman, co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (Indian Muslim Women's Movement).

"This far-sighted judgment will go a long way in enabling the poor and women among the Muslim community to get speedy justice and at the same time their fundamental rights will not be subject to arbitrary interpretations and violation."

The Supreme Court ruling resulted from a case involving a woman who was told by a Sharia court to leave her husband and children and live with her father-in-law who had raped her.

Many people from poor backgrounds cannot access civil courts and seek resolution through Sharia courts, said Soman.

She called for a new, well defined Muslim Personal Law to make 18 years the minimum age of marriage for girls and to criminalise polygamy for Muslims. Under the current law, Muslim girls can marry when they reach puberty.

"We believe that a codified Muslim Personal Law based on the Koranic principles of justice and equality can go a long way in furthering the cause of justice. There is need for the institutions such as Sharia courts to be made accountable," said Soman.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Sino-Indian Ties

Reuters Showcase

Pakistani Floods

Pakistan Floods

Pakistani Islamists use floods to turn opinion against India  Full Article 

Farming In Haryana

Farming In Haryana

Climate smart farmers get tech savvy to save India's bread basket.  Full Article 

Cleaning The Ganga

Cleaning The Ganga

Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri  Full Article 

Diesel Pricing

Diesel Pricing

India to decide on diesel deregulation after state polls - oil ministry source.  Full Article 

Scotland Referendum

Scotland Referendum

Polls show Scottish opponents of independence with slight lead ahead of vote.  Full Article 

Champions League

Champions League

Holders Real back on song with 5-1 rout of Basel.  Full Article 

Hashmi's New Film

Hashmi's New Film

For Oscar-winning Tanovic, Emraan Hashmi’s “serial kisser” tag didn’t matter.  Full Article 

Cold War

Cold War

Russia says "cynical" U.S. policy pushing world toward new cold war.  Full Article 

Hungry World

Hungry World

Hunger easing globally but 1 in 9 people undernourished - report.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage