Punishment under fatwa declared illegal

Friday, July 09,2010

 DHAKA: The High Court on Thursday declared illegal and unlawful any extrajudicial punishment in the name of ‘fatwa’ (religious edict).
Delivering the judgment upon a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) writ petition, a division bench comprising Justice Syed Mahmud Hosain and Justice Gobinda Chandra Thakur considered as offender whoever declares such extrajudicial punishment.
The bench directed the government to take legal action in accordance with the Penal Code and other relevant laws against the perpetrators of such offence, making its rule issued earlier absolute.

The court in its judgment observed that any extrajudicial punishment in the name of ‘fatwa’ (Islamic cleric’s edict) is conflicting with the Constitution and other laws in force in the country.

A person who will declare such punishment and those who will be involved in the process would be considered as offender and abettor
respectively and both should be brought to justice, the court order said. Ain-O-Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), BRAC, Naripakkha, Nijera Kori and three lawyers filed the identical PIL writ petitions.
The PIL petitioners moved the petition following a Banchharampur (Brahmanbaria) datelined report published May 22 in the daily Prothom Alo, captioned ‘Damsel gets 101 floggings, 4 arrested’.

Earlier, on January 1 in 2001, the High Court had ruled for the first time that any ‘fatwa’ or legal opinion not given by a court is unauthorized and illegal.

According to the HC ruling, ‘fatwa’ means legal opinion of a lawful person or authority.
But the legal system in Bangladesh empowers only the courts to decide all questions relating to legal opinion on the Muslim law and other laws in force.

Barrister Sara Hossain, Barrister Mahmud Shafique and advocate Salauddin Dolon appeared for the PIL petitioners.

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