Madras High Court bans Sharia courts in TN

Court Decision

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to ban all unauthorised ‘Sharia’ courts functioning on premises of mosques in the state while hearing a petition of a man who was allegedly forced to give talaq by one such court in the city.

The court today said that religious places were meant only for religious purposes and ordered the state government to ensure that such courts do not function and file a status report by January 19 – next hearing.

The Madras High Court passed the order after hearing a plea filed by Abdur Rahman, a non-resident Indian from the UK, stating that a large number of innocent Muslims were suffering because of the functioning of ‘Makkah Masjid Sharia Council’ in Chennai and similar forums across Tamil Nadu that were functioning like judicial forums.

Mr Rahman, who sought a direction to stop the functioning of Makkah Masjid Sharia Council, said he had approached the Sharia council to reunite with his wife, but was forced by the council to sign a letter of Talaq. He however has now approached the family court for an appropriate remedy.

Though the Supreme Court has declared such bodies as illegal, the number of disputes entertained by such Sharia councils exceed a few hundred every year, the plea said.

Mr Rahman, in his plea, contended that such “kangaroo courts” deceptively dissolve marriages of many and even deal with property disputes and creates a sense of religious fear in the mind of Muslims for any disobedience.

The court observed that such places of worship – whether it be temple, mosque or church –  when used as extra-judicial forums, certainly the authorities are duty bound to take action against them.