The Madras High Court on Monday banned all unauthorised ‘Sharia courts’ functioning from various mosques across Tamil Nadu, saying the religious places and places of worships were meant only for religious purposes.
The court has ordered the government to ensure that judicial forum does not exist in such locations and file a status report in four weeks.
"If a place of worship - whether it be temple, mosque or church - is used for purposes other than prayers, and more specifically to create extra-constitutional forums, certainly the authorities are duty-bound to take action against them," read the order issued by the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar.
The court’s direction came in response on a PIL by Abdul Rahman, an NRI from UK, who alleged that a large number of innocent Muslims were silently suffering because of the functioning of 'Makka Masjid Shariat Council' and similar forums across the state and some of them were functioning like judicial forums.
Rahman also sought a direction to stop the functioning of Makka Masjid Shariat Council of Chennai.
He submitted that he too had become a victim once as he had approached the council to reunite with his wife. But he was forced him to sign a letter of Talaq and the divorce was pronounced.
He submitted he had approached the family court now for an appropriate remedy.
Though the Supreme Court has declared such entities as illegal, the number of disputes entertained by the Shariat council had exceeded a few hundred every year, the PIL said.
He contended that such "kangaroo courts" deceptively dissolves marriages of many persons and even deals with property disputes and creates a sense of religious fear in the mind of Muslims for any disobedience.
The counsel for Rahman said the PIL had been filed to safeguard the interests of a large number of innocent Muslims who were silently suffering because of the functioning of Makka Masjid Shariat Council and similar forum across the state.
The court observed since places of worship, whether it be temple, mosque or church is used for purposes other than prayers and more specifically to create extra judicial forums, certainly the authorities are duty bound to take action against such forums.
The court directed police to take necessary action to stop these activities and file an affidavit before the court and posted the matter for further hearing to January 19, next year.