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India law minister: Muslims must decide whether to follow Islamic law

[JURIST] Indian law minister H.R. Bharadwaj said Wednesday that the country’s 130 million Muslims must choose whether to abide by fatwas [Wikipedia backgrounder] issued by Islamic family courts. The comments came in the wake of a petition filed by lawyer Vishwa Lochan Madan calling for the Supreme Court of India [official website] to demand the elimination of all Islamic courts in the predominantly-Hindu nation and bar the formation of new ones. Madan said Islamic courts disrupt the country's judicial process, which is based on India's secular constitution [text]. The secular constitution does allow religious groups to follow separate laws on marriage, divorce and property. Recently an edict was issued by Muslim clerics, and upheld by a Muslim law board [BBC report], that a woman allegedly raped by her father-in-law should marry him and divorce her husband. Though critics have slammed the Muslim judicial system as more strict than in some Islamic nations, Bharadwaj insists that the Supreme Court should not get involved, saying instead that Muslims "should decide whether they [will] be governed by fatwas or not." AFP has more.

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