In the course of the hearing of a PIL seeking a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), attorney general K.K. Venugopal pressed before the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar the necessity “for the court to step in and issue directions”.
“The Centre has filed its counter affidavit…it is a crime punishable with imprisonment of seven years under the existing laws…,” he advanced.
It may be noted that sections 319 to 326 of the Indian Penal Code deal with the offences of ‘voluntarily causing hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’.
Further, the Maharashtra legislature has passed the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 to prohibit the social boycott of individuals or families by caste panchayats or any community for not following the norms set by the community. It defines such behaviour as an offence punishable with imprisonment, which may be up to seven years, a fine that may be as much as Rs 5 lakh or both.
On Friday, Justice Chandrachud mentioned the documentary A Pinch of Skin on the ritual of FGM among the Dawoodi Borah community.
Senior counsel Anand Grover also backed the Centre, advancing that “people are suffering”, and informed the bench that the states of Kerala and Telangana have also initiated an investigation.
The apex court, having previously issued a notice to the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi, directed copies of the petition to be served on the said two states, listing the matter for final disposal in July.
The petition, filed by advocate Sunita Tiwari, contends that the practice of khatna, as performed on every girl child within the Dawoodi Bohra religious community, does not have any reference in the Quran and is carried out without any medical reason. It expresses anguish over the “the atrocity, bodily pain, in-humanness and mental torture faced by the girls and women of Dawoodi Bohra community for their entire life due to the unhygienic and illegal surgeries performed on their person for non-medical reasons during their childhood.” The petitioner has prayed that the practice be declared as a cognisable, non-compoundable and non-bailable offence.
Read the order here.
This article was originally published in LiveLaw.