SRINAGAR: In a manifestation of people’s growing distrust in conventional judicial system and mounting influence of religious organisations in society, Jamatud Dawa (JuD) has set up ‘Darul Qaza Sharia’ in the provincial metropolis to dispense ‘justice’ among people in light of Sharia laws, Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported.
A legal expert told Dawn that it was a sheer violation of the country’s constitution. However, the organisation claims it offers arbitration only and resolves disputes in light of Sharia.
The JuD is not a proscribed organisation and claims to render social welfare services besides running charitable schools and hospitals in calamity-hit cities of the country especially, the report said.
Sources told the newspaper that the organisation’s ‘Arbitration Court of Sharia’ has been taking up complaints of citizens approaching it for justice and summoning the ‘defendants’ in person or through a legal counsel with warnings of strict action under the Sharia laws in case of no response.
A copy of official JuD summons available with Dawn bears two monograms – Darul Qaza Sharia, Jamatud Dawa Pakistan and Saalsi Sharai Adalat-i-Aalia (Arbitration Court of Sharia), the report said.
The ‘court’ has been established at the organisation’s headquarters, Jamia Qadsia, Chauburji under a Qazi (judge) who is assisted by Khadmins (court associates) to decide the complaints, it said, adding the complaints are addressed to the chief of the religious organisation who later refers them to Qazi for further proceedings
Sources have told Dawn that the complainants approach the ‘arbitration court’ in the hope of swift solutions as litigation before conventional courts takes much time especially in civil cases.
The organisation’s spokesman Yahya Mujahid, as per the report, defends the functioning of the ‘Sharia Court’ saying it is not a parallel system to the constitutional courts of the country.
“It is an arbitration court, which decides disputes with the consent of the parties,” he was quoted as saying.
He has stated that disputes have been resolved in accordance with Islamic laws and that offering arbitration to confronting parties is not illegal, the report said.
The spokesman failed to justify issuance of summons carrying a warning of strict action in case of non-compliance, when mentioned that there can be no coercion on any of the disputing party in arbitration, it said.
In one such case regarding a monetary dispute between two property developers, the ‘Sharia Court’ has been issuing summons to the defendant, Dawn reported.
However, the defendant has not appeared before the Qazi so far, it said, adding that he has written letters to judicial and executive authorities, including chief justice of Pakistan and prime minister, complaining about the unconstitutional summons being issued to him by the religious organisation.
The letters are yet to be answered whereas the JuD spokesman offers no explanation to the practice of serving summons, said the report.
Pakistan Bar Council member Azam Nazir Tarar told Dawn that the constitution does not allow any private organisation to use the word “court”.
“This is parallel judicial system and against the law of the land,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf denies any knowledge of the existence of ‘Sharia Court’ or having received any complaint in this regard.