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Accueil > Colloques, journées d’étude > 50. Projet ANR Just-India (2009-2012)

Islamic law in Indian legal pluralism

19 January 2012, Salle Thorner, EHESS (CEIAS), Paris 13th arrondissement

Jean-Philippe Dequen, PhD student at SOAS, reported on the fieldwork he carried out in October 2011 in Delhi and Lucknow, and presented the various legal forums within which Islamic law is applied in northern India, with particular focus on inheritance law.

In addition to legal pluralism, as sanctioned by the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, India enjoys both official and semi-official jurisdictional pluralism, whether of customary origin through the Sarpanch or of associative origin under the impetus of various Law Boards (including the most powerful, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). The latter were created from the 1970s onwards, in particular in reaction to the demands for a Uniform Civil Code as laid out in the 1950 Constitution (Article 44), to guarantee - just as constitutionally (Article 25) - a system of personal law.

Although the data collected in the field show active legal pluralism, which readily associates these different forums with the overall administration of justice, they also raise the question of the future of such a system since the different solutions observed appear to be irreconcilable despite their common label, "Muslim Personal Law", a truly catch-all concept that sanctions both so-called classical Islamic law and new interpretations of it, without forgetting purely customary practices.