Muslim Personal Law Bill introduced in J&K
1 October 2005
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Friday introduced a Bill seeking to make provisions for the application of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) to people of that community in the State. Seeking the permission of the House to move the Bill, Opposition leader Abdur Raheem Rather of the National Conference said that even as Shariat laws were applicable to Muslims in the State, they came into conflict with customs in many matters. 'I want that these customs should not come in the way of implementing the Shariat laws,' he said. After he moved the Bill towards the end of the brief autumn session of the Assembly, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Muzaffar Hussain Baig said the Government had no objection to its introduction. The Bill will come up for discussion and consideration in the next session. In his statement of objects and reasons, Mr. Rather said matters relating to inheritance in Jammu and Kashmir were governed by the provisions of the Sri Pratap J&K Laws Consolidation Act 1977 (Samvat). 'Section 4 of the Act provides that in questions regarding succession, inheritance, special property of females, betrothals, marriage, divorce, dower, adoption, guardianship, minority, bastardy, family relations, wills, legacies, gifts, waqf, partitions, castes or any religious usage or institutions, the rule of decision is and shall be the Mohammedan law in cases where parties are Mohammedans and Hindu laws in cases where parties are Hindus,' he said. 'But this has been the exception so far as such law has been, by this or any other enactment, altered or abolished or modified by any custom applicable to the parties concerned which is not contrary to justice, equity and good conscience and has not been by this or any enactment altered or abolished and has not been declared to be void by any competent authority.' Mr. Rather said that in case of Hindus, succession matters were now governed by the Hindu Succession Act 1956. The Indian Shariat Act of 1937, which applied Muslim Personal Law to Muslims in the country was not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, he added. Mr. Rather said the issue of custom usually led to prolonged litigation and poor masses in rural areas could not bear with that. He referred to a judgment given by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in which it was observed that 'the customary law prevalent in the State has resulted in chaos and confusion and often cases give rise to endless litigation and delay in disposing of the cases. There is no authentic record of customs. The code of tribal customs has been outdated now. Some of the customs contained in it have become obsolete.' Mr. Rather said that to overcome these problems it was necessary to make provisions for the application of the Muslim Personal Law in the State.