New Delhi, April 20: Supporting a PIL to ban the ‘Khatna’ or the Female Genital Mutilation (FMG), Attorney General K.K. Gopal appearing for the Centre on Friday asked the Apex Court to ‘step in and issue directions’ on the practice of FMG. The government’s response came on a plea seeking direction to ban female genital mutilation or “Khatna”, as it is commonly called, and declare it illegal and inhuman.

Further, the Centre told the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Khanwilkar that the centre has filed a counter affidavit stating that the Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) is a crime with a punishment of seven years of imprisonment “under the existing laws.”

The central government responded on the issue after a PIL was filed last year by an Advocate Sunita Tihar seeking a ban on Female Genital Mutilation. She challenged the practice prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra religious community and sought direction to declare it illegal and unconstitutional, non-compoundable and a non-bailable offence. The next hearing on the matter is on July 9.

Senior Counsel Anand told the SC that the Kerala and Telangana have also started investigating the matter. The apex court issued notices to the two states. It had earlier issued notices to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Delhi.

“The Petition filed by Tihar last year challenged the practice prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra religious community and sought direction to declare it illegal and unconstitutional, non-compoundable and a non-bailable offence,” Reports news Agency IANS.

The petition filed by the advocate described the practice as “inhuman” and “violative” of girl’s rights under the Constitution’s Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life).

The plea requested the SC to frame guidelines to curb the practice and it also sought the Apex Court to issue directions to the state police chiefs to take action against those who engage in such practice.