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No room for Islamic courts: law minister

August 17, 2005 15:49 IST

A day after the Supreme Court sought the Centre's response to a petition alleging setting up of Islamic courts, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj on Wednesday declared that the Constitution recognises only one judiciary headed by the Chief Justice of India and none else.

"The Constitution does not recognise any of these Islamic courts. There is no question of separate Islamic courts," he said addressing a press conference at his office in New Delhi. "Under the Constitution, there is only one judiciary -- the lower courts, the high courts and the Supreme Court and everyone is bound to obey their rulings," he said.

Alarmed by a petition pointing out a parallel Islamic judiciary handling 'Imrana' type cases, the Supreme Court had yesterday issued notices to the Centre, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Islamic seminary Darul Uloom. The court had also issued notices to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Delhi where, according to the petition, Islamic courts have been set up posing a challenge to the judicial system.

Citing the fatwa issued by the Deoband-based seminary Darul-Uloom in the Imrana rape case and the stand of AIMPLB, the petitioner said criminal law was not allowed to have its natural run as the entire issue was hijacked by the clerics. The law minister, however, said fatwas were an internal matter of the community. "If anything wrong was being done under the Shariat law, the community should address it. They should decide whether they would be governed by fatwas or not," he added.

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