Times of India’s distortion of report on fatwa, Dar-ul-Qaza (February 27, 2014)
New Delhi, Feb, 27: Eminent lawyer Mr. Y. H. Muchhala, has prepared the following note on the Times of India’s distorted reporting of the Supreme Court’s proceeding in the matter of Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union of India:
Clarification on the distorted reporting of the proceedings of the Supreme Court in the matter of Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union of India filed as PIL seeking ban on Fatawa and Dar-ul-Qaza.
The Times of India dated 26.02.2014 reported the proceedings before the Supreme Court in the matter of Vishwa Lochan Madan who sought the order from the Hon’ble Supreme Court banning Fatawas and Dar-ul-Qazas. The report of Times of India is the classic example of unfair reporting of the Court proceedings. Before pointing out distortions in the reporting, it is necessary to clarify what happened in the Court.
1. Firstly, there was discussion in the Court on the subject matter of the PIL filed by Mr. Madan and no judgement is pronounced so far. Therefore, there is no “ruling” given by the Hon’ble Court at this stage.
2. Secondly, the hon’ble Court made certain observations during the course of arguments clearly indicating the following points:
- That Fatawa is merely an opinion (which is the submission of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board) and the same cannot be enforced on any person coercively;
- That if anybody tries to impose his opinion on anyone, then the Courts will definitely protect the aggrieved person;
- The repeated submissions made by Mr. Madan that at least the nomenclature “Fatawa” should be changed but the Supreme Court did not indicate that it would accede to the request of Mr. Madan;
- No observation was made that “Fatawas are illegal”. On the contrary, several observations made by the Hon’ble Court clearly show that Fatawa is an expression of opinion which is part of the freedom of speech and expression.
- The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that if anyone uses coercive methods resulting into the breach of civil and / or constitutional rights of any individual, the Court will render its assistance to the victim.
- Then on the question of interdicting Dar-ul-Qaza, the Hon’ble Supreme Court also observed that the prevailing system of establishing Dar-ul-Qaza cannot be equated as establishing parallel courts as the same have no authority to enforce its decisions (which is the submission of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board)
- The appointment and training of Qadis also do not infringe any provision of the law and the same cannot be banned / prohibited. The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that Dar-ul-Qaza is one of the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution and can play the role of Conciliation, Mediation, etc.
3. In light of the above clarification, the Times of India’s report, unfairly and maliciously, gives the wrong heading to the news item by sensationalizing the issue and provocatively stating, “Fatawas are illegal”
4. Further, the report gives the feeling that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has already decided the issue while the Hon’ble Supreme Court has reserved the judgement.