The Uttarakhand High Court on August 30, 2018 declared fatwas as unconstitutional and illegal. The high court banned all the religious bodies and statutory panchayats in the state from issuing fatwas.
The ruling came, as the court declared illegal a fatwa banishing the family of a rape victim from their village.
The issuance of fatwa infringes upon the statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour and obligation of individuals.
• A division bench of the high court comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma held that the fatwa was against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
• The ruling came after the judges took into consideration a newspaper report that the panchayat had issued a fatwa for externment of the family of a rape victim in Laksar as a matter of PIL.
• The judges said that instead of empathising with the rape victim and her family, the panchayat had the audacity to extern the family from the village.
• The court held that a fatwa is nothing but an extra constitutional adventurism, which is not permissible under the Constitution.
• It stated that the panchayats are only required to discharge the duties and functions enshrined under the law and issuing fatwas is not a part of their statutory duties and functions.
• It also held that fatwas cause immense agony and devastation to the victim, even if the same has been issued by local panchayat like 'Khap Panchayat'.
• The constitution of Panchayats is provided under Article 243 of the Constitution of India. These are created under the Panchayati Raj Act.
• The senior superintendent of police (SSP) in Haridwar has been directed to depute the circle officer to immediately reach the village and to ensure that the family of the victim is traced.
• The SSP shall ensure round-the-clock safety of the victim and her close family members and initiate criminal proceedings against all the members of the panchayat who have issued the fatwa.
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