Centre extends support to SC plea against female genital mutilation

New Delhi : The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it supported the petition opposing the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear on July 30 the plea filed by Delhi-based lawyer Sunita Tiwari and asked the parties to file their written submissions.

The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the parties to advance arguments on the plea and on the aspect as to whether it can also be referred to a Constitution bench.

“I am supporting the petitioner. They can begin their arguments on Monday,” Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the court, reports PTI.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said that he was seeking to intervene on behalf of some scholars and doctors who wanted to oppose the age-old practice of genital mutilation of minor girls in the community.

Appearing for a Muslim group, senior advocate A M Singhvi had said during an earlier hearing that the matter be referred to a constitution bench as it pertained to the issue of essential practice of the religion which needed to be examined.

He had said that the practice of female genital mutilation was a religious and customary practice and the courts should not intervene in this area.

The apex court had on July 9 questioned the practice of female genital mutilation of minor girls in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community, saying it violates the bodily “integrity” of a girl child.

The Attorney General had said that the practice causes irreparable harm to girl children and needed to be banned.

He had also told the bench that countries like the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and around 27 African countries have banned this practice.

Earlier, the apex court had ordered Kerala and Telangana to be made parties to a PIL that has challenged the practice. It ordered that states like Kerala and Telangana, where Bohra Muslim community resides, should also be made parties to the litigation and issued notice to them as well. State of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Union Territory Delhi are already party to the case.

The court had on May 8 agreed to examine the issues raised by Tiwari saying that the practice of female genital mutilation was “extremely important and sensitive”.

It had issued notices and sought replies from four Union ministries, including the Woman and Child Development, besides Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi where Dawoodi Bohras, who are Shia Muslims, predominantly reside.

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