Supreme Court refers plea against female genital mutilation to five-judge constitution bench

Supreme Court refers plea against female genital mutilation to five-judge constitution bench

Courtesy : Agencies25/09/2018 21:54

The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a five-judge constitution bench the plea challenging practice of female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohra Muslims.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud was hearing a PIL filed by a Delhi-based lawyer challenging the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) of minor girls of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community.

Female genital mutilation is performed "illegally upon girls (between five years and before she attains puberty)" and is against the "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which is India is a signatory", the plea said, adding the practice caused "permanent disfiguration to the body of a girl child".

 A group of Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community members had earlier told the apex court that the female circumcision is practised by a few sects of Islam, including the Dawoodi Bohra community, and the validity of this be examined, if at all, by a larger constitution bench. 

The Supreme Court in August said the FGM of minor girl leaves a "permanent emotional and mental scar" on them and the practice may be held as violative of dignity of women as prescribed in the Constitution.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud referred to constitutional schemes as interpreted by the apex court over a period of time and said "the fact that the practice is essential religious practice does not make it constitutional".

"You just cannot inflict any kind of injury to another person," the bench said, adding that for husbands, young girls should not go through all this. "This kind of mutilation leaves a permanent emotional mental scar on small girls. You snip her genitalia," the bench said.

Earlier in July, Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, said that the practice causes irreparable harm to girl children and needed to be banned.

He told the bench, which also had Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that countries like the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and around 27 African countries have banned this practice.

On July 30, the Supreme Court said the practice of FGM in Dawoodi Bohra community is violative of Article 21 and Article 15 of the Constitution that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

 The top court also referred to fundamental rights including Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds like caste, creed and sex) under the Constitution and said a person has the right to "have control over her body".

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