The Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JUH) has bitterly opposed the Supreme Court's endeavour to examine Muslim personal laws so that biases against women in the legal system can be eliminated.
The organisation, which is a collective of Indian Islamic Scholars, asserted before the SC that courts could not test the validity of Muslim personal law in order to do away with prejudice against women as it was based on the Holy Quran.
"Mohammedan law is founded essentially on the Holy Quran and this cannot fall within the purview of the expression 'laws in force' as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution, and hence its validity cannot be tested on a challenge based on Part-III of the Constitution (guaranteeing fundamental rights, including right to equality)," said the JUH application filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, according to The Economic Times.
“Personal laws do not derive their validity on the ground that they have been passed or made by a legislature or other competent authority. The foundational sources of personal law are their respective scriptural texts," the application added.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi took up the petition titled 'Muslim Women's Quest for Equality' and agreed to make JUH a party to the proceedings. They have sought responses from the JUH, the attorney general and National Legal Services Authority on the questions posed by the SC in six weeks. Reports added that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is also expected to request the SC to make it a party in the case.
The Indian Express reports, "Last year, a two-judge bench had ordered registration of a PIL and requested the Chief Justice to set up a Special Bench to deal with issues relating to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act."
The Muslim personal laws allow men to arbitrarily end marriages, besides helping perpetrate various forms of discrimination against Muslim women.
The Indian society has separate personal laws for different religions that deal with marriage, divorce, maintenance, succession and adoption. A Hindustan Times report has observed that while the Hindu Law overhaul began in the 1950s, any attempt to reform Muslim law has met with stiff resistance from conservative parties.