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IN April 2011, the State of Gujarat saw the inauguration of its first Darul Qaza, or Sharia court. Launched with much fanfare by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the Darul Qaza declared that its aim was to bring about speedy and harmonious justice. The growth in the number of Darul Qazas over the last decade prompted a public interest petition before the Supreme Court asking the court to declare the Darul Qazas unconstitutional on the grounds that they challenged the primacy of the Constitution as a fundamental source of law and compromised secularism by permitting a religious, non-state system of legal governance. Permitting a community to set up its own judicial system, the petitioner alleged, would lead to the withering of the judicial system set up under the Constitution. While the Supreme Court continues to hear the petition, it is worth examining the extent to which the petitioner’s claims are justified.

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