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Monday, Jan 24, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Plight of a woman

Is Legal Justice Enough?

Imrana has been vindicated by the courts which finally held her father-in-law guilty of raping her and sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment. The AIMPLB has welcomed the court's decision, but clerics are already demanding that her husband must le

Is Legal Justice Enough?
| AP
Is Legal Justice Enough?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Imrana, the brave 29-year old mother of five had won many battles on her own, but further vindication followed today when the Muzaffarnagar Sessions Court held her father-in-law, 70-year old Ali Mohammed, guilty of raping her on June 6, 2005.

District and Sessions Judge R D Nimesh pronounced Ali Mohammed guilty of raping 29-year-old Imrana, a resident of Charthawal village in Uttar Pradesh, in a courtroom packed with mediapersons, social activists and community members.

The judge gave 70-year-old Mohammed a 10-year prison term and directed him to pay compensation of Rs 8,000 to Imrana. On a separate charge of criminal intimidation, Mohammed was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rs 3,000.

Mohammed remained silent through the proceedings and spoke briefly only to say that he was incapable of committing such a crime. His counsel Subash Arora said an appeal would be filed in the Allahabad High Court against the trial court's verdict.

Imrana's case had outraged not only the Muslim community but had caused a national furore when within a week of her rape, the village panchayat had declared her marriage to her husband, Noor Ilahi, illegal—directing her to treat her husband as a son, and that she could not live with him anymore.

But her ordeal did not end there. The ulema at Deoband moved in, formally stating the Shariat position: such a marriage is invalid. As the media and the community went into overdrive, and it became a hot potato, Deoband retracted, saying it had only expressed a 'hypothetical' point of law. But in its effect, it had already assumed the force of a fatwa, taken as religious diktat.

Already thrown out of the village, humiliated and having to move to her parents' house in Kukramandi, where too she came under tremendous pressure because of the Deoband fatwa, she decided to fight back, filed a police complaint against Mohammed Ali and had him arrested for rape. "I wanted to put my father-in-law behind bars," she had told Outlook last year. She even agreed to go for medical investigation when she found out that her case against her father-in-law would not stand in court sans a medical report.

Police registered a case under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC against Mohammed after arresting him. Police also filed a case against him on June 30, 2005 with a medical report and recorded Imrana's statement before a magistrate. Mohammed had been in judicial custody since June 16, 2005, three days after he was arrested for the rape.

Charges were framed against the accused on December 30, 2005. Six witnesses, including Imrana, her brother Imran, Shashi Gupta, the doctor who gave the medical report and judicial magistrate S K Jaiswal, deposed for the prosecution. One witness, Munna, deposed for the defence.

Defence lawyer Subhash Arora sought Mohammed's acquittal due to lack of evidence and Imrana's purported statement that her father-in-law had been unsuccessful in his attempt to rape her. Arora argued that Mohammed was falsely implicated in the matter following a property dispute.

But even the conviction for Mohammed today will not bring the curtains down on this case as Muslim clerics have already issued statements against the verdict and demanded that her husband, Nur Ilahi, must leave his wife Imrana, giving a new twist to her travails. The chairman of the Shariat court of Muzzaffarnagar, Maulana Imran, said Nur Ilahi should leave his wife despite the fact that the verdict was delivered by a civil court and the matter was not tried by the Shariat court.

A member of the Shariat court, Mufti Zulfiqar, also supported the chairman's view and said, "He should leave Imrana." Ahsan Kasmi, a mufti of leading Islamic seminary Darul-uloom Deoband, too said Nur Ilahi should immediately leave his wife.

Mufti Habibur Rehman, in-charge of the fatwa department at Darul-uloom Deoband, who earlier issued a fatwa in Imrana's case, refused to comment. He said a response could be issued only if a written request was submitted to him.

Thankfully, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has welcomed the court's verdict and stated the stand taken by some clerics that Imrana should have married her father-in-law went against the tenets of Islam. Khalid Rashid, a member of the AIMPLB, welcomed the punishment given to Imrana's father-in-law. "According to the AIMPLB and the Shariat, the victim cannot marry a person who has raped her. No one can accept such a fatwa," Rashid told reporters.

But the real test still awaits Imrana. Her husband has only said that he is concerned about his father. Imrana has won the battle in court, but the real battle remains to be fought at the community level where she will have to deal with hostile views, as those expressed by the clerics Her mother-in-law wants to protect her convicted husband. Clearly, Imrana needs not just legal justice but continuing courage and support from the divided community.

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