New Delhi: The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday banned religious bodies and statutory panchayat and any group of people from issuing any fatwas in the state saying they (the fatwas) are “unconstitutional and illegal”. The decision was taken since the fatwas violate statutory rights, fundamental rights, dignity, status, honour, and obligation of individuals, the HC said.

Taking cognizance of a newspaper report that the panchayat had issued a fatwa for externment of the family of a rape victim in Laksar as a matter of PIL, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma held that the fatwa was against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

The declaration came after the HC declared a fatwa banishing the family of a rape victim from their village illegal. Instead of sympathising with the rape victim, the panchayat had the audacity to extern the family from the village, the court said.

“Fatwa is nothing but extra-constitutional adventurism, not permissible under the Constitution. The constitution of Panchayats is provided under Article 243 of the Constitution of India. These are created under the Panchayati Raj Act,” the court said.

“The panchayats are only required to discharge the duties and functions enshrined under the law. Issuing fatwas is not part of their statutory duties and functions. The fatwas cause immense agony and devastation to the victim, even if the same has been issued by the local panchayat like ‘Khap Panchayat’,” the court added.

With PTI inputs