Fatwa is not legally binding on parties: Delhi High Court

Fatwa regarding the transfer and possession of immovable property was cited by one of the parties regarding ownership and possession of a property. The Single judge bench of the Delhi High Court was of the opinion that there can be no legality or validity attached to a ‘Fatwa’ and they cannot be legally binding on the parties. This ration was laid down by J. P.M. Singh in the case of Mohd. Ashraf & Ors. Vs. Abdul Wahid Siddique, [C.R.P. 89/2016].

The brief facts of the case are that a suit for possession and ownership of a property located in the Daryaganj area was filed. The Petitioner alleged that he was the owner of the said property and provided evidence of the same by placing six registered sale deeds that traced back the title to one Mst. Musharraf Begum and a fatwa on record. The Defendants in this case opposed the claim made by the Petitioners and stated that the original owner who is the lady in this case made a declaration that after her death the tenants would be the owners of the property. Further, the Defendant was of the opinion that they have been living at the said property for almost 32 years i.e. since 1971 and no claim of possession has been made in these years hence he was the owner of the property by way of adverse possession. The lower court had dismissed this application and so the appeal was preferred by the Petitioner.

The High Court observed the facts of the case and on the issue of fatwa the court cited the Supreme Court’s verdict in the case of Vishwa Lochan Madan Vs. UOI & Ors. and stated that “fatwa does not satisfy the requirements of a legally binding document and that they do not trace their origin to validly made law.” The court further stated that, “Imposition of a fatwa would itself be illegal and that. The effect of this judgment on the alleged fatwa, which is the basis of the Plaintiffs claim to ownership, would therefore have to be adjudicated by the Trial Court.” Lastly, on the issue of Constitutionality of considering Fatwa legally binding the court stated that, “While a fatwa can be the basis of an amicable settlement of disputes between parties who submit to such a settlement process, binding the same on a third party would be contrary to law.” The Court in this case instructed the lower court to conclude the suit within six months on the basis of the other documentary evidence provided by the parties.

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