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11th February 2023 (7 Topics)

Excommunication practice in Dawoodi bhora community

Context

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court referred the challenge to the constitutional validity of the practice of ex-communication in the Dawoodi Bohra community to the nine-judge Bench constituted to review the Sabarimala judgment.

Who are the Dawoodi Bohras?

  • The Dawoodi Bohras are Shia Muslims whose leader is known as the Al-Dai-Al-Mutlaq. According to members of the community, there are around 1 million Dawoodi Bohras spread around the world.
  • For over 400 years, the leader of the community has been based in India, including the current and 53rd leader, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.
  • The leader of the community is recognised by the members as having the right to excommunicate its members.

What is ex-communication?

  • In practical terms, ex-communication means not being allowed to access a mosque belonging to the community or a burial dedicated to the community.

Impact

  • It leads to the deprivation of legitimate rights and privileges of its members

Important Acts against ex-communication

Bombay Prevention of Excommunication Act

  • On November 1, 1949, the Bombay Prevention of Excommunication Act (now repealed) was enacted.
  • It invalidated ex-communication of any member, “notwithstanding anything contained in law, custom, usage” for the time being in force.

Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016

  • The 2016 Act prohibits the social boycott of a person or a group of persons and terms it a violation of fundamental rights.
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