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Certificate issued by chief kazi on talaq does not have legal validity: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court ruled on Wednesday that a certificate issued by the chief kazi on talaq is only an opinion and has no legal validity. The bench, comprising Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh, gave the ruling while passing interim orders on a PIL by lawyer and former MLA Bader Syed.

Syed, in his petition, assailed the declarations issued by kazis certifying a talaq and sought restraining them from giving certificates and other documents certifying or approving it. The bench, which referred to Section 4 of The Kazis Act, 1880, held that the office of the kazi does not confer on the person any judicial or administrative power.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Shariath Defence Forum submitted that the nature of certificates issued by the chief kazi was only an opinion having expertise of Shariath law. To support this, they referred to Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariath) Application Act, 1937. Syed and others supporting him, including Women Lawyers Association, submitted that the certificates issued by kazis were causing immense confusion in matrimonial proceedings and also in the understanding by both spouses of what was the effect of such a certificate being issued.

In this regard, they produced some certificates issued from 1997 to 2015, which just stated that on a representation of the spouse of a particular date, the talaq pronounced in respect of the wife was valid as per Islamic Shariath. The bench pointed out that neither had the facts which prompted the kazi to opine so been set out nor had it been clarified that was only in the nature of an opinion.

The Board said it was willing to examine the format in which a certificate may be issued purely as an opinion of the chief kazi having expertise on shariat law so as to ensure no ambiguity before any legal forum or otherwise. The bench granted time to the Board to formulate the format and place a draft before it so that inputs from other stakeholders are made available.

It held that no certificate in respect of talaq would be issued as an opinion by the chief kazi. It clarified that the certificate issued by the chief kazi is only an opinion and has no legal sanctity, more specifically in view of Section 4 of The Kazis Act.

It said this order must be circulated by the registrar to judicial forums for clarity and it was open to the petitioners concerned to give adequate publicity to it. The bench then posted the matter to February 21.