Bangladesh apex court bans fatwa as punishment

Bangladesh apex court bans fatwa as punishment

The Supreme Court modified a High Court verdict of 2001, saying that no person can pronounce it (fatwa).

It said "no punishment including physical violence or mental torture in any form can be imposed or implicated on any body in pursuance of fatwa," Star Online, website of The Daily Star reported.

The apex court said fatwa on religious matter may be given by the "properly educated persons", which may be "accepted only voluntarily, but any coercion or undue influence in any form is forbidden".

A six-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice A.B.M. Khairul Haque gave the verdict.

On Jan 1, 2001, the high court declared all punishments imposed in the name of fatwa illegal.

The high court verdict had led to violent protests by the Muslim clergy. It was challenged and the apex court had then stayed it.

Human rights organisations like Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Ain O Salish Kendra argued against fatwa. 

The apex court too invited opinions, particularly from the Muslim clergy that wanted that fatwa be allowed and not be made subject to legal scrutiny.

Human rights bodies in Bangladesh say fatwa is frequently issued at the level of local mosques to settle marital disputes and cases of rape, the ruling being weighed against women.

Bangladesh witnessed a public outcry recently when a minor girl was raped and the local clergy issued a fatwa, subjecting her to lashing. She died during the flogging.
The case is pending before the high court that censured the clergy, the police and the hospital administration.