October 4, 2022

Darul Uloom Deoband

Whether Dar-ul-Qaza is a parallel court and Fatwa has any legal status?

This question came for the decision in Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union Of India (2014), In this case, the petitioner objected the establishment of darul-Qaza and the binding force of Fatwa in reference of two fatwas issued by Darul Uloom Deoband in a case where father in law raped his daughter in law and theses fatwas declared the matrimonial knot of husband and wife as void, however, no one asked for fatwa in these case.

Honourable Supreme Court considered the question of legality of Darul-Qaza and Fatwas. The reasoning and decision of Apex court are hereinbelow in the language of Supreme court.

Darul-Qaza

Dar-ul-Qazas, aim to administer justice to Muslims living in this country according to Shariat i.e. Islamic Law based on the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet. Dar-ul-Qaza can be perceived as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, which strives to settle disputes outside the courts expeditiously in an amicable and inexpensive manner.

The power to adjudicate must flow from a validly made law. Person deriving benefit from the adjudication must have the right to enforce it and the person required to make provision in terms of adjudication has to comply that and on its failure consequences as provided in law is to ensue. These are the fundamentals of any legal judicial system.

The decisions of Dar-ul-Qaza or the Fatwa do not satisfy any of these requirements. Dar-ul-Qaza is neither created nor sanctioned by any law made by the competent legislature. Therefore, the opinion or the Fatwa issued by Dar-ul-Qaza or for that matter anybody is not adjudication of dispute by an authority under a judicial system sanctioned by law.

The person or the body concerned may ignore it and it will not be necessary for anybody to challenge it before any court of law. It can simply be ignored. In case any person or body tries to impose it, their act would be illegal.

The object of establishment of such a court may be laudable but we have no doubt in our mind that it has no legal status. It is bereft of any legal pedigree and has no sanction in laws of the land. They are not part of the corpus juris of the State.

Fatwa

The Fatwa has no legal status in our Constitutional scheme. Notwithstanding that it is an admitted position that Fatwas have been issued and are being issued.

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 is informal justice delivery system with an objective of bringing about amicable settlement between the parties. It is within the discretion of the persons concerned either to accept, ignore or reject it.

However, as the Fatwa gets strength from the religion; it causes serious psychological impact on the person intending not to abide by that. It, however, emphasises that the persons who are God fearing and believe that they are answerable to the Almighty and have to face the consequences of their doings/deeds, such are the persons, who submit to the Fatwa.

One may not object to issuance of Fatwa on a religious issue or any other issue so long it does not infringe upon the rights of individuals guaranteed under law. Fatwa may be issued in respect of issues concerning the community at large at the instance of a stranger but if a Fatwa is sought by a complete stranger on an issue not concerning the community at large but individual, than the Darul-Qaza or for that matter anybody may consider the desirability of giving any response and while considering it should not be completely unmindful of the motivation behind the Fatwa.

Issuance of Fatwa on rights, status and obligation of individual Muslim, would not be permissible, unless asked for by the person concerned or in case of incapacity, by the person interested.

Fatwas touching upon the rights of an individual at the instance of rank strangers may cause irreparable damage and therefore, would be absolutely uncalled for. It shall be in violation of basic human rights. It cannot be used to punish innocent. No religion including Islam punishes the innocent. Religion cannot be allowed to be merciless to the victim. Faith cannot be used as dehumanising force.

We observe that no Dar-ul-Qazas or for that matter, anybody or institution by any name, shall give verdict or issue Fatwa touching upon the rights, status and obligation, of an individual unless such an individual has asked for it. In the case of incapacity of such an individual, any person interested in the welfare of such person may be permitted to represent the cause of concerned individual.

In any event, the decision or the Fatwa issued by whatever body being not emanating from any judicial system recognised by law, it is not binding on anyone including the person, who had asked for it. Further, such an adjudication or Fatwa does not have a force of law and, therefore, cannot be enforced by any process using coercive method. Any person trying to enforce that by any method shall be illegal and has to be dealt with in accordance with law.