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Indian Muslim leaders unhappy over adoption ruling

Supreme Court says Islamic law banning it has no legal foundation

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
India

February 21, 2014

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Indian Muslim's voiced disappointment on Friday over a Supreme Court ruling this week allowing Muslims to adopt children despite the act being banned under Islamic law.

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the right to adoption is conferred by law and cannot be overruled by Indian Muslims' personal law which prohibits it.

A three-member bench was reviewing a petition filed nine years ago by social activist Shabnam Hashmi, who wanted to adopt a child. It ruled in favor of the petitioner, citing India’s Juvenile Justice Act which allows the adoption of a child permanently separated from his biological parents.

"The judgment is in conflict with the rules of our personal law," Ahmed Bukhari, head cleric for the Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi, told ucanews.com.

He said that according to Muslim personal law, an adoptive child cannot inherit property or become the legal heir of their deceased adoptive parents.

Zafaria Gilani, a member of the Muslim personal law board in Lucknow, told ucanews.com that the board's legal committee will decide its next course of action.

“We do not want anything of this sort to be made applicable to Muslims that goes against personal law,” he said.

Shabhnan Hashmi, the successful petitioner, called the judgment a landmark decision that will open doors for a large number of children in need of adoption and also to childless couples.

“India is not an Islamic country... I am an individual and I have my laws and rights as a citizen of this country,” she said.

The judgment was hailed by some prominent members of the Muslim community. Senior Delhi-based journalist Zafri Nofil told ucanews.com that the ruling was “a very positive decision”.

Earlier, childless Muslim couples or those willing to adopt faced some discrimination. Now they are protected by law, he said.

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