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PIL filed in Delhi High Court for seeking equality for Muslim women by advocate Raghav Awasthi
A PIL was heard on Wednesday by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, whereby a social organisation "Sahara Kalyan Samiti" represented by advocates Raghav Awasthi and Shoumendu Mukherji sought equality of women's rights at par with males in Muslim personal laws viz-a-viz inheritance rights.

The High Court issued notice to the Union of India, directing it to examine the matter and file its response.

The matter according to the petitioner at hand pertains to the discriminatory practice in Muslim personal laws wherein share of women at the time of inheritance is always half of that of males.

The petitioner claimed that the petition has been filed for the benefit of Muslim women in India who have been discriminated against as far as their rights of inheritance vis-a-vis their male counterparts are concerned.

The petitioner submits that the said discrimination based on customary law as well the present statutory law is violative of their fundamental right to equality enshrined under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India as well as other relevant articles of the Constitution.

Women under the present Islamic law in force are, by the mere factum of their being women in the nature of a wife or a daughter are only entitled to half of the share of their male counterparts. The petitioner contends that law as per Article 13 indeed includes personal laws also including Muslim personal laws. It is erroneous to assume that personal laws are excluded from the ambit of judicial examination.

The petitioner also submits that the Muslim personal law discriminating against women in the aforementioned manner also suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and is thus violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner states that a bare perusal of the aforesaid apportionment of property in respect of succession reveals the following:

a. A wife shall receive 1/8th of the property of her husband on his death if they have children. In case there are no children borne out of the marriage, she is entitled to 1/4th of the property.

b. A daughter shall receive half of the share of a son.

In stark contrast, the men of the family are provided for in the following manner:

a. A husband shall receive 1/4th of the property of his wife on her death if they have children. In case there are no children borne out of the marriage, he is entitled to half of the property.

b. A son shall receive double the share of the daughter.

Thus, the petitioner clearly perceives that women under the present Islamic law in force are, by the mere factum of their being women in the nature of a wife or a daughter only entitled to half of the share of their male counterparts.

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