Muslim personal law can’t override criminal law : Court

published on September 25, 2013

Holding that Muslim Personal Law cannot “override” criminal law, a Delhi court has rejected the bail plea of a Muslim man, accused of kidnapping and raping his 17-year-old lover belonging to the same community.

The court said that the law of the land should be applied uniformly on all and constitutional concept of equality before law cannot be diluted by one set of legislation for Muslims and a different one for non-Muslims.

“Merely because both the girl and the accused happen to be from the same religion i.e. Muhammadan whose Personal Law provides for a different age of marriage than the one provided under the statutory law of the land, does not mean any special indulgence is required to be given to the accused in so far as criminal law of this land is concerned,” Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said.

“I may observe that India is governed by secular concepts provided under the Constitution and Sharia cannot override the same. The Muslim Personal Law only applies to cases relating to marriage, divorce and personal relations but has no applicability in case of a criminal liability,” the judge said.

Muslim parents are as much entitled to protect their minor daughters from sexual abuse and exploitation as any other Indian irrespective of religious considerations. No separate parameters can be adopted for Muslim offenders only because the complainant happens to be from the same religion.

“No person can be permitted to make a mockery of secular criminal laws of India nor can any offender be permitted to take shortcuts by resorting to selective application of Sharia and Personal Laws in order to evade a criminal liability under the existing Penal laws,” the court said.

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