• Ban on all unauthorised Sharia courts in Tamil Nadu: Madras HC

    December 22, 2016

    The Madras High Court directed the state government to put a ban on all unauthorised Sharia Courts in the mosques across Tamil Nadu. The reason behind this decision, as given by the HC was that places of worship should only be used for religious purposes and not for administration of justice or adjudicating any dispute. The court further directed the state government to submit a report regarding the ban within four weeks from the date of the decision.

    The court’s decision came after a PIL was filed by Abdul Rahman, a non-resident Indian, who had earlier approached such a Sharia court in Chennai for resolving a matrimonial matter and reunite with his wife, but instead, was forced to sign a letter of divorce or talaq, and was made to pronounce the same. Abdul Rahman in his PIL alleged that the Makka Masjid Shariat Council was operating as a court of law to the extent of passing divorce orders and this was adversely affecting a large number of innocent Muslims. The petition further stated that, the council had created an impression among Muslims that it was functioning as per Sharia law, and all its orders and judgments were therefore binding on the community.

    Although the Supreme Court, in the year 2014, had declared that such institutions have no valid legal basis and their decisions could be challenged in the court of law, but even then the number of disputes entertained by the council had exceeded a few hundred every year.

    Earlier this year, the Centre had opposed the practice of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims in the Supreme Court, and sought a relook on grounds like gender equality and secularism. This landmark decision by the Madras High Court appears to have come in the wake of the raging debate over the controversial practice of triple talaq in Muslims.


    The Madras High Court in this landmark decision has taken a remarkable step towards making the people aware about the illegality and unconstitutionality of such institutions. This decision shall definitely act as a guiding light for the people to approach the right institutions for resolving their issues and not be subjected to the atrocities of such religious councils.

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