Dehradun: Banning fatwas in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court has declared illegal a fatwa banishing the family of a rape victim from their village.
Declaring fatwas as unconstitutional and illegal, the High Court directed that in Uttarakhand all the religious bodies and statutory panchayat and any group of people are banned from issuing fatwas since it infringes upon the statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour, and obligation of individuals.
Taking cognizance of a newspaper report that the panchayat had issued a fatwa for the externment of the family of a rape victim in Laksar as a matter of PIL, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma held that the fatwa was against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Instead of sympathising with the rape victim, the panchayat had the audacity to extern the family from the village, the court said.
"Fatwa is nothing but extra-constitutional adventurism, not permissible under the Constitution. The constitution of Panchayats is provided under Article 243 of the Constitution of India. These are created under the Panchayati Raj Act.
"The panchayats are only required to discharge the duties and functions enshrined under the law. Issuing fatwas is not part of their statutory duties and functions. The fatwas cause immense agony and devastation to the victim, even if the same has been issued by the local panchayat like 'Khap Panchayat'.
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 the 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.