Mumbai: The first Darul Qaza or Sharia Court was inaugurated on Monday at the Anjuman-e-Islam School to fulfil the needs of the Muslim community in this metropolis.

“Though the Sharia court is present in Thane and Malegaon, Maharashtra, and marital and family-related cases are already being handled in Mumbai by Kazis, what is important is we will now have special premises in Nagpada in south Mumbai to deal with these problems,” Abdul Sattar Yusuf Shaikh of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told Gulf News.

Except for criminal cases, Kazis, specially appointed by the AIMLB, will hear and settle disputes relating to marriage, divorce and even property if a settlement can be arrived according to Sharia law, he said. In no way will this court clash with the civil courts and on the contrary will lessen the burden of these courts which are time consuming and expensive for people, he added.

With the Muslim community constituting 20 per cent of the population in Greater Mumbai and its suburbs, the establishment of this court by the AIMPLB will be a boost to those seeking redressal under Islamic law, says Sarfraz Arzoo, owner and editor of Hindustan, a Urdu daily.

He also says that “contrary to news reports that women’s rights are under harm in Sharia courts in the UK, the truth is that Islamic law empowers women more than normal courts, including in cases of inheritance which are overlooked otherwise.” Normally, a woman’s share of inheritance is written off in the form of dowry in India, he says. “But under Sharia, her rights cannot be dispensed off summarily.

“The rights of a girl child in Islam is inalienable and she just can’t be written off.”

Like all family courts, this, too, will work towards reconciliation of marriages and only when there is no way out will a direction be given. However, the concerned parties are always free to approach a civil court if he or she wishes.