India Court Rejects Shariah Law as Authority

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India's Supreme Court has ruled that Islamic courts in their country have no legal authority and people are not bound by any of their decrees.

In 2005, lawyer Vishwa Lochan Madan filed a petition in the country's highest court, saying Muslim groups were running a parallel judicial system.

He cited a case which caused outrage in the country in which a Muslim man raped his daughter-in-law. Shariah court ordered the woman's marriage annulled, demanded she live with her father-in-law and leave her five children behind.

Madan asked for the Shariah courts to be disbanded, but the high court rejected this part of Madan's petition. 

However, it said "fatwas," or edicts, passed by Shariah courts had no legal sanction and that people could voluntarily opt for an Islamic court for personal matters.
   
"No religion is allowed to curb anyone's fundamental rights," Judge C. K. Prasad said.

According to the ruling, Muslims may choose to abide by Shariah law if they wish, but people cannot be legally forced to do so.

India is a predominantly Hindu country with a large Muslim minority.

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