Constitutional Developments in the Muslim World

A weekly section that covers updates on constitutional design and key constitution-related news in the Muslim World

Week of September 23 , 2013

  • India

In a landmark ruling, a Delhi Session Court held on September 25 that Islamic Personal Status Law cannot override Indian Criminal Law.  The court’s holding emphasized the constitutional concept of equality before law, which it said would be diluted if there were one set of laws for Muslims and a different one for non-Muslims.

The court rejected a plea for bail by a Muslim man accused of kidnapping and raping his 17-year-old lover. “Merely because both the girl and the accused happen to be from the same religion i.e. Muhammadan—whose Personal Law provides for a different age of marriage than the one provided under the statutory law of the land—does not mean any special indulgence is required to be given to the accused as far as criminal law of this land is concerned,” Judge Kamini Lau said.  The judge added that India is governed by secular concepts provided by the Constitution and that Muslim Personal Law only applies to cases relating to marriage, divorce, and personal relations.

  • Egypt

The spokesman of the 50-member Committee responsible for redrafting Egypt’s constitution announced on September 22 that a draft new constitution would be put to a referendum by the end of November.  A new constitution would lead to parliamentary elections, followed by a presidential election, by mid-2014, in accordance with the timeline set forth in the Constitutional Declaration of July 8, issued by interim President Adly Mansour following the overthrow of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.  Spokesman Mohammed Salamawy explained that the Committee has already approved about one-third of the articles, especially those relating to “human rights and liberties.”  According to Salamawy, issues under discussion include the nature of Egypt’s new political system, the status of the military, and military trials for civilians.  Each proposed article or amendment has to be approved by at least 75% of Committee members for it to be incorporated into the new constitution.

On September 25, an Egyptian court issued a ruling banning the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its NGO.  The court ordered the government to seize the Brotherhood’s funds and administer its frozen assets.

Meanwhile, the interim President announced amendments to the Criminal Procedures law to allow criminal and cassation courts to extend periods of detention without a specified maximum limit.

By Salma Waheedi, Juris Doctor Candidate (2014), Northwestern University School of Law

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Constitutional Developments

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