The Supreme Court Friday stayed the order of Uttarakhand High Court which had banned all religious outfits, bodies, panchayats and groups of people in the state from issuing ‘fatwas’.
‘Fatwa’ is advice or opinion given by qualified Islamic scholars in response to queries asked on religious matter.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also issued notices to the state government and the high court on a plea filed by Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind challenging the court’s August 30 order.
In its order, the high court had banned all the religious outfits, bodies and statutory panchayats, local panchayats and groups of people in Uttarakhand from issuing fatwas saying it infringed upon statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour and obligation of individuals.
The high court, while declaring ‘fatwas’ as unconstitutional and illegal, had passed the order after a media report was brought to its notice that a panchayat had issued ‘fatwa’ for externment of a rape victim’s family in Roorkee’s Laksar.
In its plea before the apex court, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind has said that the high court’s order banning issuance of ‘fatwa’ by religious outfits and bodies was “illegal and unsustainable” and legality of ‘fatwa’ was already adjudicated by the top court in 2014.
It has said that “only authorized and well qualified person is competent to issue ‘fatwa’ i.e. Darul Ifta (fatwa council) or Muftis are jurists qualified to give authoritative opinions as per Shariat law known as ‘fatwas’.”
“A candidate is conferred degree of Mufti after he successfully completed the comprehensive course in Islamic jurisprudence which takes 8 to 10 years in completing the same,” the plea has said.
It has further said that ‘fatwas’, which are based on Islamic law, is not binding on anyone.
The petition has referred to the apex court’s verdict on the issue and said it was held that, “A Fatwa is an opinion, only an expert is expected to give. It is not a decree, not binding on the court or the state or the individual. It is not sanctioned under our constitutional scheme. But this does not mean that existence of Dar-ul-Qaza or for that matter practice of issuing Fatwas are themselves illegal.”
It has said that from the perusal of media report, on the basis of which high court had passed the order, it transpires that ‘farman’ issued by panchayat was neither a ‘fatwa’ nor it was issued by the Darul Ifta or Mufti on any religious issue.