Government duty-bound to give papers proving religion after conversion: Kerala High Court

KOCHI: Thadevoos, 50, a native of Ernakulam, embraced Islam after he got attracted to the religion’s beliefs and customs three years ago. But he faces a big problem now: There are no valid documents to prove he is Muslim.

In a far-reaching order, that will benefit people like Thadevoos, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has said the state government is duty-bound to frame rules appointing an authority to grant approval for conversion of persons to Islam under the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937.

The Bench issued the order on the petition filed by Thadevoos alias Abu Thalib of Ilahia Colony in Muvattupuzha, who converted to Islam from Christianity.

Thadevoos’ case is interesting. He, a Christian, married a Hindu woman and shifted to Muvattupuzha. From there he got attracted to the beliefs and customs of Islam and converted.

But he is facing several issues now as there are no valid documents proving his conversion and approached the High Court. The issue regarding the funeral of  a person named Simon Master also forced him to approach court. 

There was a dispute over the last rites of Simon, who was a Bible scholar who had embraced Islam long ago and had in-depth knowledge of Quran. Though he had converted to Islam, he had no records to prove it. Thadevoos feared he may also have to face similar issues, his counsel said.

M M Aliyar, counsel for the petitioner, said it is a landmark verdict. “It could be possible for a person who desires to live under the Muslim Personal Law to do so after obtaining a declaration from the competent authority. Even after 80 years of framing of the Shariat law, subsequent governments have failed to frame this rule,” he said.  

The petitioner submitted that non-framing of rules by the state government for implementing the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is illegal. Under Section 4 of the Act, the government is obliged to frame rules prescribing an authority before whom the declaration under the Act is to be made.

The court said: “When that be the position, the failure to frame rules is really a matter of concern.” Even though the Act says the government may frame rules, the word ‘may’ should be construed to mean ‘must’ or ‘shall’. The state government submitted that appropriate rules would be framed within a period of three months. Recording the government’s submission, the court disposed of Thadevoos’ petition.

Article source: Legal News

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