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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Uttarakhand HC Bans Fatwas After Minor Rape Victim Ordered to Leave Village, SC Stays HC Order

The Supreme Court today stayed an order of Uttarakhand High Court banning all fatwas (a ruling as per Sharia law given by Muslim clerics), legal news site Bar & Bench has reported.

Uttarakhand HC had passed their order banning fatwas after a shocking incident in Laksar village near Roorkee. As per a Times of India report, a 15-year-old girl in the village was raped by her neighbour in April and she subsequently became pregnant. The girl’s family asked the village head to take action against the rapist, but instead the panchayat and other local outfits passed a fatwa that if the girl’s family complained to the police, they would be thrown out of the village.

A group of 20 people visited the victim’s house on 27 August and pressurised her father to terminate his daughter’s pregnancy and also threatened to “burn them alive” if they reported the case to police or took any legal action.

Police registered a case under section 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) along with relevant sections of POCSO Act in the matter.

Nainital High Court also took cognizance of the matter and asked police to ensure safety of the victim and her family, and to initiate criminal proceedings against all the members of the panchayat/local outfit that issued the fatwa. The court further banned “all the religious outfits/bodies and panchayats/group of people from issuing fatwas, since it infringes upon the statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour and obligation of individuals.”

“The panchayat, instead of sympathising with the rape victim, had the audacity to extern the family from the village. Fatwa is nothing but extra-constitutional adventurism, not permissible under the Constitution”, the judges observed

An appeal was filed in Supreme Court against the High Court verdict by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a front organization of the hardline Deoband seminary, through senior advocate Raju Ramachandran.

The SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stayed the High Court order and issued notice.

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