Day 8 Arguments

Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

September 24th, 2018

Today, the Court referred the matter to a Constitution Bench (CB) upon the request of Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for the Dawoodi Bohras community, and Attorney General KK Venugopal.

This case pertains to the question of whether female circumcision violates the fundamental rights to equality and personal liberty. The Dawoodi Bohra community argues that, for them, the practice is an essential religious practice and is thus protected by Article 26 of the Constitution.

In the previous hearing, Mr. AM Singhvi argued for the formation of a CB. He stated that questions pertaining to essential religious practices must be heard by CBs, citing Sardar Syenda.

Today, Mr. KK Venugopal and Mr. Rohatgi requested the Court to refer the matter to a CB. Mr. Rohatgi submitted that questions pertaining to the legality of female circumcision practices are of great significance to the Dawoodi Bohras. He urged a five-judge CB to hear the matter.

A counsel for intervenors seeking a ban objected to the request. They argued that not every matter pertaining to ERPs needs to be referred to a CB. The counsel emphasised that the current three-judge Bench has already heard the matter at length.  Note, in the previous hearing Ms. Indira Jaising also opposed referring the case to a CB. She asked the Bench to wait for the upcoming judgement in the Sabarimala Temple Entry caseShe stated that the Sabarimala judgement would set a precedent on the relevant issues.

The Court referred the matter to a Constitution Bench.