The Madras High Court banned the unauthorised functioning of Sharia courts in Tamil Nadu on 19 December 2016.
The ruling came after the hearing of a petition filed by 29-year-old Abdul Rahman who claimed to have been forced to divorce his wife by one such court in the city. Rahman who is an engineer employed in the Gulf sought justice for his victimisation. His plea was heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar.
• The bench ordered a ban on all such courts functioning in an unauthorised manner on the premises of mosques in the city.
• The bench further stated that religious places are only meant for religious purposes and asked the state government to ensure that such courts do not function.
• The bench also demanded a status report from the police within four weeks.
• Though Chennai police denied the existence of such courts, a police report did confirm the existence of some dispute redressal sessions at the Makka Masjid Shariat Council on Mount Road in Chennai.
• Rahman is his petition too mentioned that the court functioned on the premises of the Council and was dealing mostly with matrimonial disputes and passing divorce orders like any other regular court.
• His plea demanded that a court intervention is necessary to safeguard the interests of innocent Muslims whose fate is decided by these illegal courts and councils.
According to A Sirajudddin, Rahman’s lawyer, the young engineer approached the Sharia Court to resolve his marital issues and reunite with his wife. However, the court forced him to sign a consent letter for talaq and pronounced talaq on his behalf, showing the letter as a proof of his consent.
Rahman was forced to approach the High Court after the police failed to take any appropriate action in his case.
The Sharia court claiming to follow the ‘Sharia law' governs the members of Islamic faith worldwide. The ruling passed by these courts is religiously binding for the believers. The topics raised in these courts cover both personal and public matters including crime, politics, marriage contracts, prayer, fasting, trade regulations, religious prescriptions, and hygiene.