Uttarakhand HC bans fatwas, terms them ‘illegal’.

The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday ruled that fatwas were illegal and unconstitutional and banned all the religious bodies and statutory panchayat and any group of people from issuing them in the state. The High Court bench said that fatwas infringed upon the statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour and obligation of individuals.

The order was issued after the court took cognizance of a newspaper report about a panchayat in Haridwar district ordering a fatwa asking a 15-year-old rape victim and her family to leave the village. “The panchayat, instead of sympathising with the rape victim, had the audacity to the family from the village. Fatwa is nothing but extra-constitutional adventurism, not permissible under the Constitution”, the court said.

Fatwas are religious edicts and even though they do not have a legal binding, they tend to have a lot of influence in the communities.  The division bench of acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar ordered the case to be registered as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).