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Posted at: Jul 9, 2018, 8:09 PM; last updated: Jul 9, 2018, 10:27 PM (IST)

BJP slams AIMPLB plan to open Sharia courts across country

'Desperate, devious attempt to evade the SC judgement holding instant Triple Talaq unconstitutional'

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 9

The BJP has slammed All India Muslim Personal Law Board's (AIMPLB) plans to open Sharia courts in all districts of the country. Though BJP leaders said any such move would be "unconstitutional", Muslim representatives termed "feasible and practical" the plan to open such religious courts, provided they are influenced by any 'siyasi jamat'-political fraternity or politics that is.

The proposal by the highest decision-making body on Muslim affairs will be placed for discussion at a meeting of the AIMPLB, here, on July 15.  

Sensing a Congress hand behind the move for "evading the Supreme Court order on instant Triple Talaq", BJP's Rajya Sabha MP  GVL Narasimha Rao told The Tribune that the measure was aimed at "denying gender justice for Muslim women". 

"The so-called Sharia courts have no legal sanctity. This is a desperate and devious attempt to evade the Supreme Court judgement holding instant Triple Talaq unconstitutional. There is a hidden Congress party's hand behind this measure aimed at denying gender justice for Muslim women," he said.

To a question on BJP's plans now, Rao said "they have no legal sanctity. This is undue interference in personal matters of the community".

However, given its place of importance in the saffron strategy for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Muslim representatives, who did not wish to be identified, said whatever the BJP may say such religious courts were not just "feasible" but would also be "acceptable" to Muslims, including women, whose rights the BJP was trying to project and protect through legislation on issue like instant Triple Talaq.

"They (Sharia courts) are permissible by Islam. All personal issues, including those related to divorce, can be resolved at the level of a 'maulvi' saving the trouble of going to courts or engaging expensive lawyers. Their verdict will be acceptable to all, including woman, who will see it a direction from the religious order. The man may also prefer an intervention by a religious representative over a litigation in the court and a possible jail term," they said.

No wonder then that for the BJP, which is all set to make its empowerment of Muslim women a big political issue in 2019, is worried. "If this happens, it will be a cause for worry while also affecting its stance on a Uniform Civil Code in the country. In courts you need lawyers whereas here all issues, including related to divorce, will be resolved by a 'maulvi', leaving a huge population of the country out of the ambit of its established legal system," Muslim representatives say.

"They are not parallel courts but Darul Qaza 'arbitration councils'. They are not unconstitutional and have been functioning in the country for years," said  Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, supporting  the  AIMPLB pitch for Sharia courts in every district of the country.

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy also urged the Centre to act against people demanding Sharia courts terming it "de-facto way of dividing the country and creating secession". 

"There is only one court and one law. The constitution is a guiding force and anything outside it will not be acceptable. Any attempt made, should be acted upon strongly by the government and these people should be arrested under the National Security Act," he said. 

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