Muslim woman moves Kerala High Court challenging Muslim Personal Laws for gender discrimination in intestate succession

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A Muslim woman has approached the Kerala High Court challenging the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, (1937 Act) and the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application (Kerala Amendment) Act, 1963 (1963 State Act), on the ground that they allegedly discriminate between male and female Muslim intestate successors. [Bushara Ali v Union of India & Ors.].

Justice VG Arun recently admitted the plea directed the counsel for the Central and State governments to get instructions on the plea that sought a declaration that the provisions of the 1937 Act and 1963 State Act are void to the extent of discrimination on the ground of sex.

The petitioner’s father passed away in 1981 leaving behind her mother and her eleven siblings. She has a total of seven brothers and four sisters.

In 1994, the petitioner had filed a suit for partition before the Subordinate Judges court, claiming shares under Shariat law, being unaware of the void nature of Shariat Law under Article 13 of the Constitution of India which discriminates between male and female children regarding apportionment of shares as 2:1.

Thereafter, the lower court passed a preliminary and final decree following the Sharia Law, allowing the petitioner to only half of the share allotted to her brothers.

The petitioner had already filed an appeal before the High Court challenging this lower court order and the prayer to set aside said decrees was reiterated in the present plea.

In addition, the petitioner in the plea challenged the validity of Section 2 of the 1937 Act and the substituted Section 2 of the 1963 State Act as void by virtue of Article 13(1) and Article 13(2) respectively as the said provisions are violative of the right to equality guaranteed under Article15 of the Constitution of India.

“As per Shariat, female children are discriminated as against male children, i.e., the share a female inherits is only half of what a male child inherits. This is a clear violation of Article 15 of the Constitution of India. The Sharia law applicable to the extent of not giving equal share to a female compared to a male is void by virtue of Article 13 of the Constitution of India”, the plea stated.

The plea will be heard next when the Court reopens after its ongoing vacation.

The petitioner was represented by advocates KV Sohan, Atul Sohan, R Reji (Attingal) and Sreeja Sohan.

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