New Delhi: Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Dawoodi Bohra community, justified female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday and called it an integral aspect of religious practice.
Making this submission before a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud hearing petitions from advocate Sunita Tihar and others challenging the practice of FGM, Dr Singhvi contended that it has the sanction of religious texts.
He said, “It is an essential aspect of Islam and cannot be subjected to judicial scrutiny. Quoting from religious texts, he demonstrated that this practice has been followed for centuries.
FGM or ‘khatna’ is a practice prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra religious community of Shia sect though it is a crime and punishable offence. This practice is an age-old tradition in this community to mark the arrival of womanhood. The court had already orally expressed its disapproval to this practice.
The Centre had supported the petitioners stating that FGM is a crime with a punishment of seven years of imprisonment “under the existing laws” and that the court can further clarify on the matter and issue guidelines.
It also pointed out that the United Nations has deprecated this practice and FGM has been banned in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and 27 African countries and it should not be allowed to continue.
The petitioners have described the practice as “inhuman” and “violative” of girl’s rights under the Constitution’s Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life). They sought a direction to declare it illegal and unconstitutional, non-compoundable and a non-bailable offence.
They have also asked the court to frame guidelines to curb the practice and to issue directions to the state police chiefs to take action against those who indulge in such practice.
Arguments will continue on August 9.